IRISHMEN Shane Cahill, James Sandford and Paul Rowley will be playing Premiership rugby next season after signing for London Welsh, whose recent play-off victory against Bristol saw them promoted from the Championship.
26-year-old Cahill moves from the Cornish Pirates, where he spent the 2013/14 campaign after a two-year stint with Rotherham Titans and one season with the Doncaster Knights.
The powerful loosehead is a former student of Blackrock College, for whom he scored the winning try in the 2006 Leinster Schools Senior Cup final against St. Michael’s at Lansdowne Road.
A relative latecomer to the game, Cahill went on to play for Leinster and Ireland Colleges, while excelling for Blackrock RFC in the All-Ireland League. His promise saw him picked up by Doncaster in 2010, although his season was ruined by injury.
Andre Bester at Rotherham – where Robin Copeland developed – gave Cahill a fresh opportunity the following season and the 6ft 1ins, 115kg prop never looked back. 13 appearances for the Pirates this season have convinced London Welsh to sign Cahill for their first season back in the Premiership.
Having built a reputation as a strong scrummaging prop in the Championship, Cahill will relish the chance to prove himself against some of the best front rows in the country.
Joining Cahill in making the switch from the Pirates to Welsh is lock James Sandford, a former Ireland international at U18 and U20 levels. The 25-year-old is a product of the Ulster academy, but moved to Rotherham in 2010 in search of game time.
Impressive form for the Titans saw Sandford earn a transfer to London Irish in the Premiership, but two frustrating seasons in which he made just five starts saw the second row drop back into the Championship with the Pirates in 2013.
Sandford has again proven himself at that level and makes the move back to the top tier for next season.
Scrum-half Rowley moves to London Welsh from Plymouth Albion, with whom he has been playing Championship rugby since 2011. The 26-year-old played for Ireland Schools and came through the academy at Munster.
Having lined out for his home province up to ‘A’ level, the Limerick man switched to Plymouth, where he has competed with fellow Irishman Ruairi Cushion for the number nine shirt.
Rowley’s physical strengths and breaking ability look like they could be suited to the Premiership, as the ex-St. Munchin’s student looks forward to helping Justin Burnell’s side to avoid relegation back into the Championship.