May 23 2013 Latest news:
Chris Phillips, London24’s Harlequins blogger
Thursday, May 24, 2012
A season which started with loss in the JP Morgan 7’s Semi Final to eventual winners Newcastle and rather unconvincing pre-season performances against Esher and Castres concludes this Saturday with a short day trip out over the road at the Big Stoop.
The various comparisons between the two finalists, Quins and Leicester, have been draw excessively over the past 10 days, since the final line up was confirmed and it doesn’t need me to highlight that eight successive finals to Quins’ first, will mean that if the game was won on final experience, the London side need not get out of bed on Saturday.
The hype around Quins has grown this season from; ‘...lucky to get away with some wins as they weren’t too affected by the Rugby World Cup...’ to ‘...crickey, they might be a real danger as they put their game together more often than not!’
What quartered fans have known for sometime, and the rest of the league have discovered this season is that the incredible crop of youngsters, the majority of which have been honed through Quins’,
arguably world class academy, are potential world beaters and the recognition that England Captain Robshaw and Mike Brown have had this season is only what was due.
When Conor O’Shea was appointed at the end of 09/10 season, some fans and commentators alike were unsure about his suitability, but the rugby and media savvy Irish gent has been more than a revelation in Guildford mid week and at the Stoop on a weekend. O’Shea has built on the good work started by Dean Richards as well as stamping his own mark on the club in terms of an exciting, fan friendly and most importantly winning style of play.
However, the game management perspective is not the only thing that O’Shea has brought to Quins. His need for discipline and rules is evident from examining the team issue kit that must be adhered to in training, to more serious incidents such as an errant scrum half; his strict rules are in fact welcomed and help to provide boundaries where needed, but which are often broken on the pitch.
82,000 are expected at Twickenham on Saturday and with the weather promising to bake those sitting in the lower tier of the East stand (factor 50 all round!) we are in for a treat so long as both clubs look to play as they both can and spread the ball wide to their exciting wingers in Monye and Tuilagi respectively.
Harlequins have asked fans to create a 500m guard of honour for the team as they make their way from the Stoop, down the A316 and into the West gate of Twickenham, something unlikely to have been seen before and will surely send goosebumps into players and fans alike.
So is a victory the definition of success this season? Well yes and no. If Quins were to win on Saturday and finish 7th next season would that be preferable to losing to a quality Leicester side and making a home semi final next season? Bragging rights and silverware aside the season has to be seen as a success and subject to Conor being able to bring through more quality youngsters to plug the gaps left by the new internationals on the autumn and winter weekends I predict having to book more semi and final tickets again next term.
To conclude this article and for the season, Quins have disrupted the old guard, Castle Kingsholm has been breached, Saffercens had to sit down and not stand up at Wembley and the quartered flags will be seen fluttering regardless of the result at 5pm on Saturday. It’s been a fabulous season and I’m so proud to call myself a Quins fan.
Until next season keep it multicoloured!
Follow Chris on Twitter @quinsquarters