CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe for £25 today CLICK HERE

Win tickets to London Irish's Christmas Game

PUBLISHED: 13:59 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:30 22 November 2019

Ben Loader of London Irish on the break during the Premiership Cup match between London Irish and Harlequins at Madejski Stadium

Ben Loader of London Irish on the break during the Premiership Cup match between London Irish and Harlequins at Madejski Stadium

Pinnacle Photo Agency Ltd

See a Christmas rugby game with a difference…

Ben Loader of London IrishBen Loader of London Irish

London Irish is getting ready for its Christmas Game on 22nd December at the Madejski Stadium in Reading. The team has players from 11 different nationalities, so Christmas traditions vary considerably within the squad. We spoke to a couple of players to see how they will be spending Christmas this year and how they will be preparing for the game.

BEN LOADER

21-year-old winger Ben Loader was born and bred in Reading, playing for Reading Abbey Rugby Club as a child and then winning his place in the First Team for London Irish, having come through the Academy. He is also a former England U20 rugby international, scoring in the Six Nations against Italy. His younger brother, Danny, plays for Reading FC and has also represented England U20 football international.

What is your go-to bar in Reading?

Purple Turtle. It's a go-to spot for all of my friends.

What is your favourite restaurant in Reading?

Miller & Carter steakhouse. We go there every year for my birthday. Anywhere along the river is also great in the summer.

What does your Christmas Day look like this year?

I'll probably go up to Grandma's in St Albans. All the family will be there.

What's the verdict on Brussels sprouts?

I like them, as long as they're cooked right and not soggy.

The Worcester game is on the 28th December. Do you know if you will be training on Christmas Day?

If we need to.

What would be the best Christmas present you could receive?

I've just broken my laptop and my phone, so new ones of those!

The Bath game on the 22nd…

Blair Cowan of London IrishBlair Cowan of London Irish

I'm looking forward to the home game! Bath is a big rival so I'm looking forward to it. We hope to get as many people out as possible, and get us all in a good mood for Christmas.

BLAIR COWAN

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Cowan is a dynamic member of the pack. Cowan also qualifies for Scotland international duty through his Scottish-born mother. He has been a key player for London Irish since 2013.

What does your Christmas Day look like this year?

I will probably be spending it with my partner and her family who are based in England. Because we have a game on 28th December, we can't overindulge, but can enjoy a few Christmas puddings and maybe a glass of red wine.

What you would describe as a normal Christmas in your hometown?

So, first of all, the weather! It's normally around 26/27 degrees in New Zealand. Mum would organise stockings for all of the kids and grandkids at my grandad's, so we open presents there. We have a barbecue breakfast whilst the kids play with their new toys outside. Then, we would chill, maybe have some more food and drink, and then eat a barbecue dinner alongside some traditional roast pieces from the Scottish side of my family. Afterwards, we lie outside, enjoying the sunny weather. It's definitely different.

Do you have any traditions?

After doing the stockings and presents in the morning, we always have fried eggs and sit in the same places. And as you grow, you make it to the adults' table. Now I have nieces and nephews, it's like a new cycle. I'm looking forward to going home and seeing old faces and new seats.

What's the verdict on Brussels sprouts?

There are two kinds of Brussels sprouts - those cooked the traditional way, which I'm not a big fan of, or Brussels sprouts stir-fried with bacon and all kinds of other things, and they are delicious! They taste nothing like Brussels sprouts.

The Worcester game is on the 28th December. Do you know if you will be training on Christmas Day?

The coaches appreciate how important time is with family, especially for the guys with children. Getting the balance right on that front is important. I don't know if we're in on Christmas Day, but I'm sure we will be on Boxing Day. Whatever we do, your mind is always on the job, but you do need to unwind and enjoy those small moments when you can, but then it's back to training hard for the next game.

The London Irish Christmas Game against Bath is on Sunday 22nd Dec…

It's going to be a great match. Christmas fixtures are always nice. People are on holiday and getting stuck into the festivities, enjoying the drinks a bit more, so it makes for an exciting, fun atmosphere.

Stephen Myler of London Irish looks for a pass during the Gallagher Premiership match between London Irish and Sale Sharks at Madejski StadiumStephen Myler of London Irish looks for a pass during the Gallagher Premiership match between London Irish and Sale Sharks at Madejski Stadium

STEPHEN MYLER

Experienced fly-half Stephen Myler is third on the Premiership's all-time list of point scorers. He transferred from Northampton Saints to London Irish last year.

What does your Christmas Day look like this year?

I'm assuming I'll be heading back to the North West to spend it with family, catching up with as many friends and family as I can, enjoying a nice roast dinner and hopefully a box of Maltesers along the way as well! I've spent Christmases in different places; it depends when the fixtures will fall. We've always worked around it.

Do you have any traditions?

Not really. Just being close to the people you love is enough.

What's your ideal Christmas dinner?

Turkey, obviously, and as many roast potatoes as you can eat! Plenty of vegetables, a lot of gravy. I'm from the North so I like a lot of gravy! And pigs in blankets. I'm not a massive fan of Christmas pudding, so a chocolate-based dessert afterwards. Pretty simple, just a lot of food!

The Worcester game is on the 28th December. Do you know if you will be training on Christmas Day?

We haven't been told yet, but with the way that the fixtures have fallen, I'm assuming we'll train on Boxing Day.

The London Irish Christmas Game against Bath game on Sunday Dec 22nd…

The fixtures are always big around Christmas. It's important from the rugby side of things to stay as switched on and focussed as you can because it's easy to get distracted with everything that comes along at Christmas. Each game is hugely important. We are expecting a great turnout, and being the Christmas game, there is always a good buzz around it, and hopefully we're in a good place in terms of games leading up to it. There's a Christmas Village with live music, mulled wine and Santa for the supporters. Hopefully we can do a good job on the field to have a nice send-off going into Christmas.

Tickets for the game are available from £32 for adults and £9 for kids, or £54 for a family ticket (2 adults, 2 concessions - over 65/junior/child). Group discounts are available. Book at ticketing.londonirish.net

Fill out my online form.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Berkshire Life