Quins lock in London Irish prop
TRANSFER NEWS: Harlequins have confirmed the signing of London Irish prop Lovejoy Chawatama.
The 30-year-old has joined the club following London Irish’s administration and suspension from the Premiership.
The tight-head prop played 18 times for London Irish in the Premiership last season, achieving 15 appearances in 2020/21 and 13 in 2019/20. He made his 50th appearance for the Exiles during the 2020/21 season.
Born in Zimbabwe, Chawatama started his rugby career as a back-row before switching to prop. He represented England Students and enjoyed stints with Clifton RFC, London Scottish and London Welsh.
Commenting on his move to Quins, Chawatama said: “London Irish will always have a special place in my heart. I am so grateful for the six years I spent at the club, and will forever cherish the memories made with players, staff, and fans.
“I am excited for this next chapter with Harlequins, a fantastic Club with exceptional talent on and off the pitch. I look forward to getting stuck into the preseason.”
Director of Rugby Billy Millard added: “We’ve been saddened by the London Irish situation and our thoughts remain with all players, staff and supporters.
“It’s been a difficult few weeks but we’re pleased to support Lovejoy and provide him with an opportunity to remain in the Premiership. He’s a hard-working prop who strengthens our front row and adds excellent experience to our squad. We’re excited by the impact he will make at Quins.”
Meanwhile, Harlequins also confirmed the signing of London Irish and England U20 backrow Chandler Cunningham-South.
The versatile forward, who is comfortable across flanker and number eight, joins Quins following the Exiles’ suspension from the Premiership.
The 20-year-old, who grew up in New Zealand playing for North Harbour, Canterbury and Lincoln University, joined the London Irish Academy last year, before making his Premiership debut against Bath Rugby in May 2022. Last season Cunningham-South made 19 Premiership appearances, proving a handful in attack and defence, with 73 carries, 91 tackles and three tries. He also played a key role for the Exiles in their Champions Cup campaign, playing all four pool matches against Montpellier and Stormers.
His prolific form saw Cunningham-South called up to the England U20 squad for the 2022 and 2023 Six Nations, before earning selection in England’s squad for the upcoming U20 World Championship.
Speaking ahead of his move to Quins, Cunningham-South said: “I’m excited to be starting a new opportunity at Harlequins and extremely grateful for the chance to join the Club. I want to thank everyone at London Irish for the special memories and support.
“I loved my time playing for Irish and want to thank the supporters for the encouragement and thank my coaches and teammates for believing in me and helping me grow as a player and person.”
Director of Rugby Billy Millard added: “It’s pleasing to welcome Chandler to Quins and provide him with an opportunity to continue his career in the Premiership. I know how much the London Irish supporters loved watching him play last season, he’s an excitement machine with plenty of power and versatility. We’re excited for his continued development in Quins colours.”