Fylde sign top prop Irving

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Fylde RFC have signed prop forward Mark Irving from Petrarca Rugby (Padua), who compete in the top tier of the Italian rugby union.

The Cumbrian powerhouse stands 6’4”, weighs in at 20st and gained Premiership and National League experience in England before moving to Italy in 2015.

The 28-year-old brother of former Fylde prop Andrew Irving played for Aspatria, Preston Grasshoppers and Northern Ireland club Ballymena before joining Newcastle Falcons in 2013.

He made his Premiership debut in 2014-15 and was dual-registered with Tynedale, making 30 appearances in National One.

Irving earned a full-time professional contract in Italy with Viadana, moving on to Benetton Treviso and then Rugby Petrarca.

Fylde head coach Warren Spragg said: “Mark is exactly the type of player we wanted to strengthen our front row options.

“He caused us a lot of problems when playing for Tynedale and has gained some great experience at Falcons and at the top level of Italian rugby as a full-time professional.

“He is highly thought of at Petrarca Padova, my last club before joining Fylde.

We think he will add an extra level of physicality to our game and be somebody the Fylde crowd will enjoy watching at the Woodlands.”

Irving said: “I very much enjoyed my two years in Italy but I’m thrilled to return to English rugby. It is even better that it’s to such a great club as Fylde. I can’t wait to meet everyone and get started in pre-season.”

Chairman of Rugby Roger Banks said: “Warren and I have set out our stall from the start that we are not just filling positions for the sake of it. We want quality players who will make a difference at this level and Mark is a big statement of our intent going forward. He has the right character and values we want at our club.”