Fixtures

European Rugby Champions Cup 01/21 20:00 4 Harlequins vs Castres - View
Premiership Rugby 01/28 19:45 14 Bath vs Harlequins - View
Premiership Rugby 02/06 13:00 15 Harlequins vs Sale Sharks - View
Premiership Rugby 02/13 13:00 16 Saracens vs Harlequins - View
Premiership Rugby 02/19 15:00 17 Harlequins vs Wasps - View
Premiership Rugby 02/25 19:45 18 Worcester Warriors vs Harlequins - View

Results

European Rugby Champions Cup 01/14 20:00 3 Cardiff v Harlequins W 33-36
Premiership Rugby 01/08 15:00 13 Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs W 14-12
Premiership Rugby 01/02 15:00 12 Gloucester v Harlequins W 17-20
Premiership Rugby 12/27 17:00 11 Harlequins v Northampton W 41-27
European Rugby Champions Cup 12/18 13:00 2 Harlequins v Cardiff W 43-17
European Rugby Champions Cup 12/12 17:30 1 Castres v Harlequins W 18-20
Premiership Rugby 12/05 15:00 10 Leicester v Harlequins L 16-14
Premiership Rugby 11/27 15:00 9 Harlequins v London Irish L 19-22
Premiership Rugby Cup 11/19 19:45 - Harlequins v Northampton W 26-25
Premiership Rugby Cup 11/13 14:30 - Saracens v Harlequins L 28-21
Premiership Rugby 11/07 16:30 8 Wasps v Harlequins W 16-26
Premiership Rugby 10/31 15:00 7 Harlequins v Saracens L 22-29

Wikipedia - Harlequin F.C.

Harlequins (officially Harlequin Football Club) is a professional rugby union club that plays in Premiership Rugby, the top level of English rugby union. Their home ground is the Twickenham Stoop, located in Twickenham, south-west London.

Founded in 1866 they took the name Harlequins in 1870. They were one of the founding members of the RFU. For sponsorship reasons they were formerly known as NEC Harlequins, but principal sponsorship is currently held by DHL and Adidas.

Harlequins have been champions of England twice, and are the current champions, winning the title in 2012 and most recently in 2021. They won the European Challenge Cup in 2001, 2004 and 2011, and the domestic cup in 1988, 1991 and 2013.

The current club captain is Stephan Lewies. Billy Millard is the Director of Rugby Performance and Tabai Matson will join the Club as Head Coach from the 2021/22 season.

History

Formation and early years

The Hampstead Football Club was founded in 1866 and the first recorded game took place in 1867. A disagreement between Club Secretary William Titchener and William Alford in 1867 resulted in Alford leaving with half of the membership to form the club now known as Wasps. The club was renamed Harlequin Rugby Football Club in 1870, supposedly because the membership was no longer purely local, but the HFC monogram had to be retained. The word 'Harlequin' (Arlecchino, a comic servant from the commedia dell'arte) was found in a dictionary and all present agreed to the new name.

During its first 40 years the club played at a total of 15 venues. Since 1909, they have only played at three.[]

In 1906, the club was invited by the Rugby Football Union to use the new national stadium in Twickenham. In those early days, only one or two internationals were played there during the season, and before long Twickenham became the headquarters of the Harlequin Football Club.

1961, first East Africa tour

In 1961, Harlequins undertook a tour of East Africa in conjunction with Pretoria Harlequins from South Africa, as guests of the Kenya Harlequin F.C. and the Rugby Football Union of East Africa; the club won five and drew one. The tour is notable for two facts, it was the first time that three sister clubs of the Harlequin family all played each other in a coordinated series of matches and at 19 days it was the longest overseas tour undertaken by a British club up to that time. Despite this, the tour pales to insignificance when it is realised the Pretoria club spent four weeks in East Africa playing eight matches and another in Rhodesia on the way home.

The London club arrived at Entebbe airport at dawn on 4 May and opened their tour with a 44–13 win against Uganda in Kampala on 6 May. They played West Kenya Province at Kitale (winning 24–6), and the Pretoria Harlequins on Saturday 13 May at the RFUEA ground, Nairobi (winning 13 – 11). The next two matches were played at the same location, beating the host club 16–0 the next day and earning a 9-all tie against Kenya Central Province on Wednesday 17 May. The last match for the London club was against Kenya at Nakuru on Saturday 20 May (winning 8–0). This last match was played under a typical "long-rains" shower that, though heavy, did not soften the hard ground enough to be a problem.[]

Acquisition of The Stoop

In 1963, Harlequin acquired an athletics ground with 14 acres (57,000 m²) just over the road from the Twickenham ground, which became its training pitch. This subsequently become their home: the Stoop Memorial Ground which in 2005 was renamed The Twickenham Stoop. This is named after Adrian Dura Stoop, who won 15 caps for England and is said to have been the person who developed modern back play.

League rugby and the professional era

With the introduction of leagues in 1987 bringing a more competitive environment, Harlequins maintained their status in the Premier Division as one of England's top 12 clubs until 2005.

The club has won the Rugby Football Union clubs knockout competition on two occasions: the John Player Cup in 1988 and Pilkington Cup in 1991. In addition, they played in the finals of 1992, 1993 and 2001.

Harlequins hold the world record for providing the most players from one club (8) in a Rugby World Cup final. In the second ever RWC final at Twickenham in November 1991, seven Harlequin players appeared for England (Will Carling, Simon Halliday, Jason Leonard, Brian Moore, Paul Ackford, Mickey Skinner, Peter Winterbottom) and Troy Coker played in the Australian pack.

They are also affiliated with an amateur team, Harlequin Amateurs.

Harlequins became the first British team to win the European Shield in 2001, defeating Narbonne 42–33 in the final. They then became the first team to win the tournament twice, defeating Montferrand 27–26 in the final of the renamed Parker Pen Challenge Cup on 22 May 2004.

In 2005 they were relegated to National Division One after finishing at the bottom of the Zurich Premiership. In July of that year they announced that they would be establishing a partnership with rugby league club London Broncos, which saw the two clubs sharing Harlequins home ground of The Stoop from the start of the 2006 Super League season. As part of the deal, the Broncos changed their name to Harlequins RL, though the two clubs remain under separate ownership.

In 2005–06, Quins utterly dominated National Division One. They won 25 of their 26 league matches, including their first 19, losing only at Exeter Chiefs on 25 February 2006. Quins also averaged nearly 40 points per match, scored four or more tries in 20 matches, and racked up an average victory margin of slightly over 25 points. They secured their return to the Premiership on 1 April with four matches to spare, crushing Sedgley Park 65–8 while the only team with a mathematical chance of pipping them for the title, Bedford, lost 26–23 at Exeter.

For the 2008 tour to New Zealand, England coach Martin Johnson selected four Harlequin players to play for the tour, Nick Easter, David Strettle, Mike Brown and Danny Care. Also five Harlequin players were selected for the England Saxons Barclays Churchill Cup matches to the United States and Canada. Tom Guest, Chris Robshaw, Adrian Jarvis, Ugo Monye and Will Skinner were all selected with Will Skinner chosen as captain for the side.

2007–08 season

Chris Robshaw played a leading role in the 2007–08 season as Harlequins won 12 of their 22 Guinness Premiership matches and finished 6th in the league. Harlequins got off to a shaky start which saw them be in 2nd, 3rd 4th place consecutively, and during the latter half of the season Halequins managed to reach third after a string of seven wins out of nine, but defeats to London Irish, Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers to finish the season meant that Quins dropped to sixth and missed out on the play-offs.

Two Harlequins players were short-listed for awards, Danny Care and Chris Robshaw, were short-listed for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award. As well as Coach Dean Richards being short-listed for the O2 Director of Rugby of the Season as well as Tom Guest being nominated for MBNA Try of the Season for his try against Leeds Carnegie on Sunday 13 April 2008.

2008–09 season

Players to leave Quins at the end of the 2007–08 season were Adrian Jarvis, Hal Luscombe, Chris Hala'ufia, Paul Volley, Nicholas Spanghero, Simon Keogh, Ricky Nebbett and Ryan Manyika. For the 2008–09 season Quins signed five new players; London Irish centre Gonzalo Tiesi, Ulster Back-row forward Neil McMillan, Auckland Blues fly-half Nick Evans, Tongan international Epi Taione who plays on wing, centre and back row and Fijian utility back Waisea Luveniyali.

Quins finished second in the 2008-09 Guinness Premiership table. In the play-offs, they lost 0–17 at home to eventual losing finalists London Irish.

Quins also hosted their first "Big Game" at Twickenham over the Christmas period, playing out a 26–26 draw with Leicester Tigers in front of 52000 people.

In the 2008-09 Heineken Cup Harlequins came top of their pool, including beating Stade Français both at home (thanks to a dramatic last play drop goal from Nick Evans) and away in front of 80000 people in the Stade de France in Paris. They lost 5–6 at the Stoop to eventual tournament winners Leinster Rugby at the quarter final stage, a match in which the infamous Bloodgate Scandal took place.

2009–10 season

The contrast between this season and the previous season could hardly have been greater. With the shadow of Bloodgate still hanging over the club, the club struggled to an 8th-place finish despite retaining most of the players from their successful previous campaign. They also made a swift exit from the Heineken Cup at the group stages while failing to chalk up a single victory in the competition. Owing to the club's lower league position, they failed to qualify for the competition for the first time in three years.

Quins also hosted their second "Big Game" at Twickenham. Despite losing 20–21 to "London" Wasps, the game attracted 76000 spectators.

Following the resignation of Dean Richards in August 2009, Conor O'Shea was appointed Director of Rugby in March 2010.

2010–11 season

Harlequins endured a mixed 2010–11 season, which was characterised by inconsistency. They finished seventh in the league, which was insufficient to ensure Heineken Cup qualification. However, they proved their potential with some inspiring performances on their way to the Amlin Cup final. This included a historic win away against Munster in the semi-final, where they became only the second club to beat the Irish province at home in a European Competition. Harlequins won the final (19–18) against Stade Français to win its 3rd Amlin Cup.

2011–2012 season

Harlequins started the season well, winning their first ten premiership games before losing to Saracens at Twickenham Stadium in "Big Game 4" in front of a then club record for a premiership crowd, consisting of 82,000. The club's results after the defeat to Saracens continued to be generally strong, with only three other defeats in the regular season and the club went on to finish top of the league. They played Northampton Saints at the Twickenham Stoop on 12 May 2012, a match which they won thanks to a 25–23 victory sealed with a try in the 77th minute by Joe Marler. Harlequins beat Leicester Tigers on 26 May 2012, in the Premiership final at Twickenham Stadium to win their first Aviva Premiership title with a score of 30–23 in front of an 81,779 crowd. Tom Williams and Chris Robshaw scored the tries and Nick Evans scored 20 points through penalties and a conversion. Chris Robshaw was named man of the match.

During this season, Harlequins played in the Heineken Cup thanks to their victory in the Amlin Cup the season before. However, they lost out on a quarter final spot in the last game of the pool stage after a defeat to Connacht. Subsequently, they went into the Amlin Cup competition but were resoundingly beaten by Toulon. Harlequins also played in the LV= Cup but did not make it out of their group with two wins and two losses.

2012–2013 season

Harlequins started their 2012–2013 season with four straight wins before suffering a first setback at the hands of Saracens at home in round 5 and at Exeter Chiefs in round 6. The club then managed to stay within the first two places of the table. On 29 December Big Game 5 proved to be a success with a 26–15 win over London Irish before a capacity crowd of 82,000 at Twickenham Stadium. Later in the season, the second setback came in the return game against Exeter when the Chiefs defeated Harlequins. The slide continued as they suffered back-to-back defeats against Saracens and Gloucester. They secured their place in the play-offs, but lost to Leicester at Welford Road in the semi-final 33–16.

Having qualified for the 2012-13 Heineken Cup on the virtue of their 2012 English Premiership title, Harlequins produced a strong showing in the pool stage, remaining unbeaten in pool 3 against Biarritz Olympique, Connacht Rugby and Zebre to be granted No. 1 seed for the quarter finals. However, they lost to No. 8 seed Munster at home 12–18 in the quarter final.

The LV= Cup featured a Harlequins team stripped of its players on international duty. Relying on a team of developing players, the club remained unbeaten throughout the pool stage. Harlequins beat Bath Rugby (31–23) in the semi-final at The Stoop, and defeated and Sale Sharks (32–14) in the final at Sixways Stadium. This was Harlequins' third title in the English/Anglo-Welsh Cup and the first since the inception of the Anglo-Welsh format. This title granted Harlequins a place in the 2013-14 Heineken Cup.

2013–2014 season

Aviva Premiership

Harlequins made a disappointing start to the new season suffering two defeats in their opening two home games against Northampton and Saracens. Injuries stalled their start to the season, and they found themselves in seventh after five games. Their season did eventually improve and they did begin to challenge for a top four spot. But four consecutive away defeats set them back again. They were left in sixth place, six points behind fourth, with four games left to play. A series of several closely fought wins including a try bonus point in the penultimate game against Exeter Chiefs ensured they would face a winner takes all home tie against Bath in the final round of the regular season. A 19–16 win in this game saw them march on to a semi-final at Allianz Park having finished level on points with Bath but crucially winning one more game. Saracens won the semi-final to end Quins' hopes, beating them 31–17.

Heineken Cup and Europe

Harlequins also made a poor start in Europe suffering a 26–33 home defeat against Scarlets before being beaten at Clermont Auvergne. They replied strongly with back to back wins over Racing Metro. They lost their next home game against Clermont after they lost a 13–3 lead. They did win their last game at Scarlets to secure a place in the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup competition. They won their quarter final 29–6 at Stade Francais, but lost to Northampton Saints in the next round.

2014–2015 season

Aviva Premiership

Harlequins were inconsistent at the start of the season and won half of their opening six games before heading into Europe.

The rest of the season saw this pattern continue and Quins finished 8th.

European Rugby Champions Cup

Harlequins beat Castres Olympique in the first ever European Rugby Champions Cup match before an away win at Wasps and defeating Leinster at home. However, subsequent losses away to Leinster, and then at home to Wasps ensured Harlequins finished third in their group and were knocked out of the tournament.

2015–2016 season

Aviva Premiership

The start of the 2015/16 season was delayed by the 2015 Rugby World Cup. However Harlequins made a strong start having a good first half to the season. They were in 3rd place in mid-January.

One of the highlights of the seasons was the home defeat of Saracens. At that time Quins hadn't beaten Saracens for 4 years and Saracens were unbeaten in their first eight games of the season.

Following this game their form fell to pieces however. First giving away a 9-point lead at Newcastle followed by a home defeat by Northampton when fly half Ben Botica failed to kick the ball out of the play when the game had finished. It was the start of a run of 7 defeat in 9 games and after being thrashed by the Exeter Chiefs on the final day of the season 24–62, Quins failed to earn a place in the European Champions Cup, finishing 7th when they required a top six finish.

European Rugby Challenge Cup

Quins put in a very strong performance in the group stage of the Challenge Cup, topping their pool and winning all of their first five games with a bonus point. This gave them a home quarter final.

They fought back from 18-30 down against London Irish to win and reach a home semi-final against Grenoble, they comfortably won that game to set up a final against Montpellier in Lyon. After their League form had left them out of the Champions Cup places, they needed victory to ensure a place in the competition next season. They slipped to a 26–9 deficit and got within 7 points but Ben Botica inexplicably kicked the ball out of play in his last game before heading to Montpellier to hand his new club the title, leaving Quins as runners-up and out of the Champions Cup for a second consecutive season.

The John Kingston Era (2016-2018)

Following Conor O'Shea's departure at the end of the 2015/16 season, Quins appointed John Kingston, then head coach, as his successor. A strong end to Kingston's first season left Quins on the brink of European Champions Cup qualification for the first time in three seasons.

It was achieved after a bonus point away at Northampton Saints on the last day of the season secured sixth place, with the Saints themselves missing out on games won.

Following the 2017/18 season, Kingston left Harlequins by mutual consent after 17 years of service to the club. His final home game featured a walk of honour around the stadium as thousands of fans applauded.

2018 to present

2018–19 season

Harlequins then turned to appointing England defence coach Paul Gustard. At the same time, a number of coaches departed, or moved into smaller roles including Mark Mapletoft and Nick Easter, who had previously been Head Coach and Defence Coach before Gustard's appointment. After a patchy start to the 2018-19 season, Harlequins went on a five match winning run in the Premiership to move up to third, seven points clear of third place Gloucester.

Quins would have all-but sealed a place in the play offs with victory, but were hammered 29-7 in front of their own fans, as Gloucester claimed a bonus point victory to move within touching distance of the London club. Ill-disciplined defeats at Saracens and Sale followed before a defining moment against Northampton Saints. Quins were within 90 seconds of recording a victory which would have effectively ended the hopes of Nortahmpton and given themselves fresh momentum as the season headed into its last few games, but a try from Alex Mitchell, helped by a lack of defensive numbers on the blindside, gave Saints the victory and brought them up to fifth, right on Quins' tail.

A late penalty miss saw Quins narrowly beaten at Exeter, and though they managed to beat Leicester in the penultimate weekend, defeat on the final day against Wasps would see them miss out on the play-offs. They were tied on points with Saints, but missed out due to fewer match wins, finishing fifth overall. James Lang's late penalty attempt would have won them the game, and secured their place in the play-offs had it gone over, but it was inexplicably taken at least a metre behind where it had been awarded in the view of TV pundit and former player Austin Healy and ultimately fell under the crossbar by "the distance Austin was talking about that they were marched back," according to fellow pundit and his former teammate Ben Kay.

In the Challenge Cup, Harlequins put together an impressive run, topping their group before edging Worcester Warriors in the quarter-final to book a semi-final trip to Clermont Auvergne. An impressive second half fightback was not enough as they were beaten 32-27. They won just one of their four pool matches in the Premiership Cup, to bow out at the group stage.

2019–20 season

Harlequins made 32 personnel changes after the 2018-19 season, as Gustard looked to freshen up his squad, and after only winning one of their first four games, Quins would remain unbeaten for the rest of the calendar year. However, a 48-10 defeat to Sale, their most comprehensive league defeat since defeat by the same margin against Exeter nearly four years earlier, and an early exit from Europe spelt a disappointing start to the season.

Quins would eventually finish 3rd in their Champions' Cup pool with home and away victories over Bath, but as they league form continued to fluctuate, their main contention for silverware would come in the Premiership Cup. Having earned a place in the semi-finals at the start of the season, whilst the World Cup took place, they hammered a young Exeter Chiefs side 49-22 away from home to reach the final. This was set for 15 March 2020, before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the resumption of the season, Quins recorded solid form to finish comfortably in sixth and earn qualification for the Champions Cup. Nonetheless Gustard's hopes of a first trophy were dashed as the London club were beaten 27-19 against Sale in the Premiership Cup Final despite leading for most of the game.

2020–21 season

Harlequins began their season with a 3-33 loss at home to Exeter Chiefs. By 10 January 2021, the club were positioned seventh in the Premiership table, failing to record a win at home and having also suffered a record 7-49 home defeat at the hands of Racing 92 in the Champions Cup.

On 20 January 2021, it was confirmed that Paul Gustard left his role as Harlequins Director of Rugby by mutual consent .

Harlequins went on to win 10 of their next 14 games,[] securing a fourth-place playoff position in the Premiership. On 19 June, 2021, they played league leaders Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate, conceding 28 points in the first half an hour of the match to trail 28-0 before half-time. Harlequins went on to undertake the biggest comeback in Premiership Rugby history to finish the match 31-31 after 80 minutes, going on to win 36-43 after extra time to book their place in the final.

On 26 June 2021, Harlequins played Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham, defeating the incumbent champions 38-40 to win their second Premiership title.

On 2 July, 2021, it was confirmed that Tabai Matson would join the club as Head Coach for the 2021-22 season.