London Irish release back-rower Blair Cowan

Blair Cowan has played 153 times for London Irish
Blair Cowan has played 153 times for London Irish

London Irish have announced that Blair Cowan will be leaving the club with immediate effect to pursue a new challenge in Japan.

Having made his professional rugby debut with Cornish Pirates in 2009, the 35-year-old joined London Irish in 2013 following a stint with Worcester Warriors. Since joining the club, Cowan has racked up 153 appearances for the club scoring 26 tries in it.

Cowan also had a loan stint with Saracens in 2018 and has played 18 Tests for Scotland since his international debut in 2014.

“This is the hardest decision of my career to date. It’s very rare for opportunities like this to come to someone at this stage in their career. When my wife and I had to write a leave and stay list, the list to stay at this Club was too long for the paper," he said.

“There was one point on the leave column, and that was family. At the end of the day, family trumps all.

“I always envisaged hanging my boots up at the end of a London Irish match, preferably lifting the Premiership trophy, so to leave on this note is extremely hard, especially as I won’t get to share one last moment with the supporters and the people within the Club, that I regard as family.

“There are so many people to thank, and hopefully I get the opportunity to do so before I leave, but I just want to express my gratitude to Mick Crossan as he has given me this opportunity to be a part of this Club for so long. I would also like to thank all coaches, management, and background staff for continuing to have faith in me and putting up with me for so long. But most of all,

"I just want to thank all the boys through all the years for giving me amazing memories and sharing the trenches when our backs were against the wall and helping to fight our way to some amazing wins.

“From myself, my wife, and my son Eli, we would like to express our gratitude to everyone involved with the Club and the London Irish family for making this period of our lives so special. Our bond with this Club will never be broken. You never know, our paths might cross again in the future.

With lots of love, the Cowans.”