London Irish forwards coach George Skivington believes the English club have been handed a difficult draw for their return to the European Rugby Challenge Cup after a one-season absence.
The newly-promoted Gallagher Premiership side were paired with Welsh region Scarlets and French duo RC Toulon and Bayonne in Pool 2 in last week’s draw in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“It’s a tough draw,” the former Exiles captain told the London Irish website. “It would be a tough draw if it was a Champions Cup pool. It shows the quality of our group.
“There are some good places to go and some great stadiums to play at, but ultimately they are very tough teams to take on and we will have to be on our mettle for those games.”
🏆 | The draw for the 19/20 @ERChallengeCup has taken place.
— London Irish (@LiRFC) June 19, 2019
Skivington is particularly conscious of how difficult the away games will be, having played 44 European matches for Irish, Leicester Tigers and Wasps between 2003/04 and 2014/15.
“The atmosphere whenever you head to France or across to Wales is always very good, but that does make them very difficult grounds to visit,” added the 36-year-old.
“The loud crowds are there to intimidate you, but they are great experiences. You have to thrive on that and enjoy it. Hopefully, we will be able to pull our experience together and put a plan in place for how we take that on.”
Skivington is especially looking forward to the games against Scarlets, with former Exiles head coach Glenn Delaney now the Welsh side’s defence coach and ex-Irish attack coach Richard Whiffin now their assistant attack coach.
“It will add a bit of spice and a bit of fun to it,” he remarked. “Obviously, Glenn and ‘Whiff’ are just moving to Scarlets now, so I think they will be quite excited by drawing London Irish and I’m sure we will have a bit of banter after the game.”