Waves induce large loads on tidal turbines, yet the effect of irregular waves, particularly those which oppose the current direction, have received little attention. Here we experimentally assess the loading resulting from 24 irregular combined wave-current cases, statistically presenting the load variability acting on a 1:15 scale tidal turbine. Comparisons are made between following and opposing conditions of equivalent wave parameters, and the effect of varying frequency and amplitude is assessed. Example load distributions are also shown, along with streamwise variation of significant wave height around the turbine. It is concluded that both opposing and following conditions must be assessed to effectively de-risk tidal turbine design: large differences are observed both in terms of the nature & magnitude of the resulting loads and the wave interaction with the surrounding flow field.