bob casey

'Big Bob' is in his final season at London Irish

St Patrick’s Day may have been and gone, but London Irish are giving you the perfect excuse to string out the celebrations, by inviting you to join in their own St Patrick’s Day Party this Sunday. The side will play Leicester at the Madejski Stadium in the Aviva Premiership match that kicks off at 3pm, but the celebrations are sure to go on long after the final whistle.

The Exiles have had a rocky start to this year, winning just one of their last six league games, and they’re currently sitting in a lowly ninth place in the table. Leicester, in contrast, will arrive in Reading buoyed by their LV Cup victory, but despite beating the Tigers just once since 2008, a draw at Welford Road in November means London Irish are confident of overcoming their visitors.

London Irish’s long-serving second row Bob Casey has been a rare sight on the pitch this season, having suffered a bicep injury in their first pre-season fixture, and then being kept out of the team by second rowers Nick Kennedy, Matt Garvey and Bryn Evans, but fans will be delighted to see him in the green jersey this weekend. Although he says the club’s recent results have not matched their own expectations, he’s hoping a win this weekend could launch a successful end to the season.

Casey said: “Our results have not been good enough, but our results have been close and we’ve lost by very narrow margins. We’ve got lots of boys starting to come back from injury now, and hopefully a win this weekend could give us a good kick start.

“Leicester are in great shape. They’re the form side in England at the moment and have great strength in depth, with three or four internationals at prop. We know the scale of the task facing us, but after the draw at Welford Road we believe we can beat them, and I’m very excited to be back involved in the side.”

As well as a fiercely contested rugby match, London Irish are preparing to put on one hell of a party. With more than 20,000 tickets sold midweek, fans will come together to celebrate Paddy-style in the stadium’s bar and car parks both before and after the game. There will be plenty of entertainment on offer from the Bible Code Sundays band to children’s activities, and if you stick around you will get to share a pint with Casey and the London Irish team.

“It’s great craic, the players have to stay focused during the game,” Casey continued. “Fans get there really early and have car park parties, and there’s always lots of Irish music and dancing. Our results have traditionally gone well for us on Paddy’s Day, and it’s good for us players to be able to thank our fans for their support.”

Don’t miss London Irish v Leicester on Sunday 25 March, kick-off 3pm. Tickets are selling out fast! Click here to get yours.

London Irish: Tom Homer; Marland Yarde, Jonathan Joseph, Stephen Shingler, Sailosi Tagicakibau; Dan Bowden, Darren Allinson; Alex Corbisiero, David Paice, Faan Rautenbach, Nick Kennedy (c), Bryn Evans, Matt Garvey, Declan Danaher, Jamie Gibson.

Replacements: James Buckland, Max Lahiff, Paulica Ion, Bob Casey, Alex Gray, Ofisa Treviranus, Delon Armitage, Paul Hodgson.

Leicester: Geordan Murphy (c); Horacio Agulla, Manu Tuilagi, Billy Twelvetrees, Alesana Tuilagi; Toby Flood, Ben Youngs; Marcos Ayerza, George Chuter, Dan Cole, George Skivington, Geoff Parling, Steve Mafi, Julian Salvi, Thomas Waldrom.

Replacements: Tom Youngs, Martin Castrogiovanni, Logovi’i Mulipola, Tom Croft, Craig Newby, James Grindal, Anthony Allen, Scott Hamilton.