British & Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan saw one of the most important season’s of his career get off to a faltering start as his Guinness premiership champions were beaten at Twickenham Stadium.
A crowd of more than 50,000 turned up for the traditional double-header start to the new season and it certainly wasn’t in the script for London Irish to beat reigning champions London Wasps 26-14.
There were two tries for each side, but the main difference was 16 points from the boot of Aussie full back Peter Hewat for the Exiles.
Back at the venue where they were so narrowly beaten by Toulouse in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup last season, London Irish twice capitalized on errors at set-pieces by the champions and were full value for their victory.
In fact, it took last quarter tries from England flanker Tom Rees and Irish scrum half Eoin Reddan to give a degree of respectability to the scoreline.
As well as full Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup campaigns this season, McGeechan is also in charge of the Lions team that will play 10 matches, inlcuding thre Tests against the reigning world champions, in South Africa next summer.