This week, London Irish became the third Premiership club to file for administration in a matter of years, with the club's hand forced after the RFU confirmed that neither their ownership nor prospective American owners would be able to sufficiently guarantee the club's finances to compete in the 2023-24 Premiership.
It was hugely disappointing news not only for the club's fans, but for the English rugby fanbase as a whole, with London Irish following Wasps and Worcester Warriors into administration, as the Premiership's financial crisis continues to worsen.
London Irish's owner Mick Crossan said in a statement that administration was a "last resort" and apologised to the club's fans:
As a lifelong fan of London Irish, the club's suspension is bitterly disappointing, and I understand the sadness felt by the thousands of our loyal supporters and the frustrations of our incredible coaches, medical staff, back-office team, and players.
But this decision has ultimately ended any hope of an acquisition of the club and has regrettably forced us to file for administration this morning.
Despite the apparent hopelessness of the situation, a report in the Telegraph on Thursday morning suggests that their could yet be a chance of revival for London Irish, in the form of involvement from the IRFU.
London Irish: IRFU reportedly monitoring situation after club enters administration
Gavin Mairs of The Telegraph reported on Thursday morning that preliminary discussions had taken place between the IRFU and the RFU with a view to preserving the future of London Irish past the 2022-23 season.
It is suggested that the discussions came from the IRFU's desire to increase playing opportunities for young talent, with a bottleneck of sorts forming within the Irish academy. There would of course be "complexities" if the IRFU were to be involved in an English-based club, and the Telegraph report stresses that the discussions have only been preliminary soundings thus far.
Nonetheless, both the RFU and the IRFU confirmed to the newspaper that discussions had taken place, with the IRFU saying:
The RFU has informally kept the IRFU updated on the situation at London Irish. Naturally, the IRFU is saddened by what has happened at the club and hope that the club's difficulties can be resolved sometime in the future.
[We have] no plans currently to invest in rugby outside of Ireland.
The RFU are reportedly keen to preserve the future of London Irish, and are exploring options which would facilitate a return to top level rugby for the club, alongside Wasps and Worcester.
Any move for IRFU involvement in London Irish would have to be rubber stamped by the RFU, and may require the IRFU to loosen their current rules on overseas-based players playing international rugby for Ireland.
It would, however, provide a huge opportunity to expand the Irish academy.
There is also significant Irish involvement at the club, with the 2009 Grand Slam winning coach Declan Kidney in charge of operations as director of rugby, and several Irish players on the books for the 2022-23 season.