London Irish face fight for their future beyond relegation battle

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Declan Kidney, the new technical consultant, will need to pull off a miracle with the Exiles 12 points adrift at the foot of the Premiership and fighting for its professional future

Declan Kidney does not need to be a qualified maths teacher to appreciate London Irish’s number in the Premiership is all but up. On Saturday Ireland’s 2009 grand slam winning coach takes charge of his first match since being appointed Exiles’ technical consultant but victory over a Gloucester side that is starting to live up to its reputation for fickleness would do little more than delay what has long seemed the club’s destiny, relegation.

The 58-year old Kidney, along with his defence coach during his Ireland days, Les Kiss, has not been appointed to pull off a rugby miracle with Irish 12 points adrift of Worcester at the bottom of the table with five rounds to go – although he insisted at his first round of media interviews that staying up was achievable – but with the future in mind. The Exiles, who have spent only one season outside the Premiership since it was formed in 1997, are fighting for their professional future.

Related: Saracens’ problems reflect those of England with Irish shadow looming | The Breakdown

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