05:12AM, Tuesday 20 May 2014
London Irish have made a real statement of intent with the announcement that Club legends Nick Kennedy and Paul Hodgson will return to the Club in the summer to work in the London Irish Academy.
Kennedy and Hodgson will join forces with former team mate Declan Danaher in an elite coaching set up designed to bring through the next generation of London Irish players. The two former Exiles were involved with the Club during its most successful times.
Nick Kennedy forged an exceptional partnership in the second row with Bob Casey during a London Irish career that spanned a decade and 217 appearances. He moved to Toulon for the 2012/13 season, where he helped the French side win the Heineken Cup, before moving to 2012 Premiership champions Harlequins for the 2013/14 season. He played in seven Test matches for England and scored on his debut against the Pacific Islanders at Twickenham in November 2008.
Paul Hodgson joined London Irish in 2004 and spent eight seasons at Sunbury, making 208 appearances. The energetic scrum half has spent the last two seasons at Worcester Warriors. He won 9 caps for England between 2008 and 2010.
Commenting on his decision to rejoin London Irish, Nick Kennedy said: “I have decided to cut short my playing career to be part of the exciting new era at London Irish. I, along with many other past and present International rugby players, am a product of the London Irish Academy. I look forward to joining up with the team in the summer, and working with the future stars of the Club.”
Paul Hodgson echoed Nick’s words saying: “These are exciting times at London Irish and I am thrilled to be part of it. The Academy has been the essence of the Club for a long time and it is a huge part of the new owners’ vision. It will be an exciting challenge but, with the team that has been acquired, one that we will be up for.”
Nick Kennedy joins as Academy Director and Paul Hodgson as the Academy Backs Coach. They will also work alongside Academy Manager Billy Clark and AASE Manager Giselle Mather.
London Irish Executive Chairman, David FitzGerald said: “Both Nick and Paul have played a huge part in the success of our Club in recent years and, working with Declan, we know that they are great additions to take our Academy forward. The fact that they have both moved on from successful playing careers to coach at London Irish only emphasises the promise surrounding the Club. The talent in our Academy is still very evident as we have eight players involved in the England U17s and U18s squads so it is about honing that talent and ensuring they go on to represent London Irish, and we now have the Academy team to deliver that. ”
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