On a weekend where two high profile Premiership local derbies take place in Twickenham, the Championship fixture between London Scottish and London Irish at the Athletic Ground in Richmond may have gone under the radar for some.
Irish’s relegation from the Premiership in May means these historic clubs will meet once more and London Scottish lock forward, Byron Hodge, is looking forward to the occasion.
“It is obviously a huge game with the two London exile clubs facing each other. Any London derby is an important game, especially on our home ground, and we are keen to put on a good show for our supporters. We have acknowledged how important this game is and are hugely looking forward to it.”
Irish are the bookmakers’ favourites to bounce straight back to the Premiership, and they have started the season superbly, with five wins out of five.
Hodge says that the Scottish squad are exciting about the challenge that is facing them on Sunday. “Everyone wants to test themselves against the best teams. It excites us to be facing such a big club. It is something we highlighted in the schedule.”
London Scottish lost their first three games, but have picked up important victories at home to Jersey and away to Bedford in the last two weekends. Both matches were close affairs and getting over the line in a tight game has particularly pleased Hodge and his teammates. The Australian said:
“The two wins show that we are heading in the right direction. We struggled to start games well earlier in the season and we gave teams an early lead. We had big starts against Jersey and Bedford and we will need to do the same against Irish.”
“We’ve managed to close tight games as well, which is a hugely important skill and it builds confidence.”
The last time London Scottish welcomed their rivals to the Athletic Ground was two years ago and despite a bumper crowd, Irish were comfortable 62-12 winners. Scottish will be hoping for an improved showing on Sunday — in front of the Sky cameras — with Hodge wanting to give the fans something to cheer about.
“They’ve made a lot of noise in our home games and we’ve had a great travelling support, particularly at Bedford on Saturday. It is important for us as a squad to get early wins at home as it builds momentum for the season.”
Featured photograph/London Scottish