Anybody who witnessed the final of the Gallagher Premiership at Twickenham on Saturday has to admit, it was the greatest final ever. Two sides Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins going toe to toe in an epic encounter. Chiefs, last season’s European champions up against Quins who reached the final after an astonishing fightback against Bristol Bears.
Chiefs were favourites going into the match, but nobody gave Harlequins much of a chance. In a pulsating final worthy of the occasion, Quins beat Exeter 40-38 to lift the Premiership title for the first time in nine years.
A see saw ride for Harlequins this season
What has made this story even more remarkable is the adventure that Harlequins have faced this season.
Back on the opening day of the season back in November at the Stoop Exeter thumped the Londoners 33-3 on a Friday evening. To their credit the side bounced back with victory over Gloucester before a disappointing European campaign. A loss against Bristol followed with a draw against London Irish before the season was put on hold for the pandemic.
During this time Quins took the decision to relieve Head of Rugby Paul Gustard from his role. Most sides would have then decided to appoint a new person at the helm, but no Quins went down a different path.
Club turn to the coaching staff
The club decided that General Manager Billy Milliard and the coaching staff should be take up the reigns. Nick Evans, Adam Jones, Jerry Flattery along with Charlie Mulchrone and Jordan Turner-Hall thrived on the challenge. So did the players as well who put together a run of 14 wins and just four defeats.
Quins decided to get back to basics and to go back to playing the old Harlequins way. Go out there, throw the ball around, play attacking and entertaining rugby. Well it has certainly made a lot of people fall back in love with the game.
Harlequins richly deserve the plaudits heaped on them this season. They ended up the leading points scorers. Finished second to Exeter in leading tries and were simply a joy to watch.
Yes, they did concede a lot of points, but their game plan was we will score more points than you and will go on and win matches. It certainly worked a treat with Quins being tagged as the entertainers.
Group of players who don’t know the meaning of defeat
Some many times this season this group of players have found the belief to win matches, even coming from behind late on. A mixture of experience heads like Joe Marler, Danny Care and Mike Brown have been outstanding. Couple this with the outstanding young players in the side who have excelled, Marcus Smith, Louis Lynagh, Tyrone Green and Jack Kenningham.
Those names are just a handful of guys who have had the strength and determination to win for the Quins cause.
To win a Gallagher Premiership title takes a massive amount of strength, determination and belief. This group have all those quantities and much more.
Crowned Premiership champions having to beat the top two sides in the league is one hell of an achievement. To do this with no main head of rugby or head coach is unreal. To win the final, when back in December they looked a side struggling with confidence is no mean feat. From virtual no hopers to winners is an incredible turnaround.
Scrum half Danny care said before the final he wanted kids to watch the way Quins play and enjoy rugby. He mentioned that if Harlequins can put a smile on youngster’s faces and get them to go and play the sport that would be a success.
It is highly likely that at some point this week Harlequins will announce a new Head Coach. The likely candidate former London Irish and Fiji centre Tabai Matson is expected to be the new man in charge.
It will be interested to see what other changes are brought in by the club. Surely the current coaching regime has to stay. After all they have made the best entertainers in South West London into an outfit feared by all in the Gallagher Premiership.