Harlequins Rugby League Club

Introduction

Rugby starting being played as a competitive sport in the nineteenth century. A schoolboy named William Web Ellis famously picked up the ball and ran with it and the sport was born at Rugby School. The game was played predominantly in public schools and gentlemen’s clubs to begin with and then moved onto larger clubs. In 1906 there was a divide between the Northern League, which supported its players financially, and Rugby Union which did not. Typically a more working class strand of the sport played in Northern England, Rugby League did not become popular in London until the 1930s.

Club History

The original London teams did not last long and did not exist beyond the 1930s. Some of the players went on to play in the Rugby League competitions that took place during the First World War. Rugby League re-emerged in the capital in 1980. Fulham Football Club created its own Rugby League team to generate funds and the team immediately joined the Rugby Football League. Fulham progressed through the complicated promotion system, only to receive instant relegation in the following season. The football team withdrew funding after a further two seasons, but the team continued to operate at a series of different football clubs and university grounds.

In 1991 the team was renamed London Crusaders, only to bought by the Australian Team, Brisbane Broncos, who changed the name to London Broncos. A further injection of cash from Richard Branson boosted the team’s profile and they played in the Super League and Challenge Cup. The Super League was a new venture aiming to raise the profile of the sport and so was keen to involve this new team. Conversely the Challenge Cup is a more prestigious event that has been played every year since 1896 (except during the First World War). The team enjoyed some successes throughout the nineties, such as second place in the Super League. It seemed, however, that financial and geographical instability was holding them back.

Merger With Harlequins Rugby Union Football Club

After a short while using Brentford Football Club as their ground, Ian Lenagan took up the post of chairman and it was rumoured that Harlequins Rugby Union Club was interested in the team. The merger was announced in 2005, to take effect the following season. The team set up camp at Twickenham Stoop in 2006.

2006 Season

The first season was not a particularly successful one. They lost the first four matches which set them up very poorly for the season ahead. The head coach Tony Rea was then removed and Leeds Rhinos’ coach Brian McDermott took the reins. An improved set of results towards the end of the season meant that they narrowly avoided relegation from the Super League XI.

2007 Season

The team struggled to find a well balanced combination of players in the 2007 season. Coaches were said to have a fairly light selection of players to choose from. This was not reflected in the player’s efforts, although the team often appeared to lack drive. It was said that they were a team that looked to be punching above their weight. This may have been a fair comment, but a harsh judgment given the club’s less than stable history.

Injury meant that Richard Villasanti was forced into early retirement. It had been hoped that he would inject some power into the team and this was another major blow. Australian Scott Mill and former Wigan player Danny Orr began to build an impressive partnership, communicating well and seeming to understand the way one another played. Again, illness and injury meant that this could not be fully utilised.

The season opened well with a win against St Helens but this was followed by some erratic form and several losses. As with the previous season, the team won some important games towards the end of season to save themselves from relegation. The end of the season was also littered with rumours about whether Lenagan would continue to work with the team. His home team, Wigan, was without a manager at this point and it seemed Lenagan may return to his roots. It is hoped that this will be resolved and the team will not be left in the lurch once more.

Club Information

  • Address: Langhorn Drive, Twickenham, Middlesex, TW2 7SX
  • Telephone: 020 8410 6000
  • Website

Directions

  • From the M3:

Follow the M3 to the Sunbury roundabout. Take the A316 Chertsey Road, continue over three roundabouts and drive a further two miles. When passing Twickenham Rugby Stadium to the left, the Harlequins’ ground is on the right. You must drive past the ground and turn around at the RFU roundabout. The entrance to the stadium is 450 yards down Langhorn Drive on your left.

  • From the M4:

Leave the motorway at junction 3 and turn right onto the A312 at the roundabout (signposted Feltham A3006). After 5 miles you will reach the A305 / A316 roundabout, take the A316 and continue straight over three roundabouts. Continue for two miles until you reach Twickenham and follow the instructions as for the M3.

  • Bus: The 267 route connects Hammersmith and Twickenham. It calls at Fulwell Garage, Stamford Brook, Turnham Green, Kew Bridge, Brentford and Isleworth.

The 281 route runs from Hounslow and Tolworth calling at Whitton, Twickenham, Fulwell, Teddington, Hampton Wick, Kingston and Surbiton.

  • Rail: Trains run regularly to Twickenham station from central London and Reading. The stadium is a short walk from the station and is clearly signposted.

Tickets

The easiest way to book tickets is online through the Harlequins Website. You must register with the website before you can purchase any tickets. Prices are subject to change but prices range from £10 special offer tickets on match days to several hundred pounds for the best seats. For up to date information refer to the official website.

Season tickets are also available which entitle fans to “earlybird offers“, opportunities to buy the best seats and exclusive access to certain parts of the ground. You must register to be eligible to buy a season ticket.

Private suites are also available for corporate and private use. These not only provide a more private and personal view of the game but also include Diamond Corporate Club Membership and access to the Captains Club within the Legends Lounge after each match. 10 person suites start at £6,000 plus VAT.

Resources for fans

Official Harlequins Website BBC Harlequins Homepage