Kevin Roberts has high­lighted the way Har­lequins in Lon­don are pre­par­ing them­selves for the fu­ture.


FIRST SOME GOOD NEWS – Ed­die Jones heeded the ad­vice in my last col­umn and fi­nally picked Danny Cipri­ani, the only imag­i­na­tive English 10 cur­rently in the big leagues – al­though Marcus Smith has po­ten­tial – to tour South Africa.

I hope he starts [and fin­ishes] ev­ery test. This will be good for rugby, good for the World Cup and great for Eng­land. And fun for rugby lovers ev­ery­where. Thank you Ed­die. Now for some more good stuff. Just as the All Blacks are ev­ery non-Kiwi’s favourite in­ter­na­tional team, so Har­lequins are ev­ery Brit’s sec­ond favourite club side.

Their fa­mous quar­tered jersey is the most pop­u­lar club shirt in the world – ma­genta, light blue, choco­late and grey – who would have thought!

It is the third most recog­nis­able jersey in the world. Their iconic Har­lequin em­blem – a cun­ning, ag­ile, mer­cu­rial trick­ster who holds your at­ten­tion, en­ter­tains and cap­tures your imag­i­na­tion – and he sets the tone for the way Har­lequins tra­di­tion­ally play the game.

I’ve been a Quins fan since my school days and about five years ago I was in­vited by Sean Fitz­patrick [who sits on Har­lequins’ board] to spend the day with their board, their new CEO David El­lis, their en­tre­pre­neur­ial, pas­sion­ate own­ers Dun­can Sav­ille and Charles Jillings, and their lead­er­ship team to de­velop an up­dated pur­pose for the club to take them for­ward in the rapidly de­vel­op­ing and glob­al­is­ing Rugby World.

This proud 150 year old club – founded in 1866, was de­ter­mined to keep grow­ing, keep dream­ing and keep in­no­vat­ing. And they even hired my youngest son Dan, who spent three years there on the dig­i­tal/fan ex­pe­ri­ence side.

They dreamed of ex­cit­ing the world of sport through the Har­lequins spirit; iconic, coura­geous, in­no­va­tive.

They would fo­cus on at­tack­ing the gain­line, win­ning with style and would fol­low their found­ing motto – Nun­quam Dormio – We Never Sleep – the ev­er­p­re­sent hunger to im­prove, to ex­per­i­ment, to go harder, to go faster and to keep in­no­vat­ing.

And last week Charles and Dun­can in­vited me back to the club [I rarely get in­vited back any­where so that in it­self was a mo­ment to savour] to meet again with the board, David El­lis and his lead­er­ship team, and club skip­per, 61 cap Wal­laby, James Hor­will, to dis­cuss how to ac­cel­er­ate Har­lequins’ in­ter­na­tional growth and de­vel­op­ment in this ev­er­chang­ing crazy world we live in.

The core chal­lenges – how do we build on Quins’ legacy and in­spire every­one at the club to cre­ate a new legacy, how do we con­nect past, present and fu­ture, how do we cre­ate loy­alty be­yond rea­son, how do we share the Har­lequins spirit with to­day’s young fans and in­volve them in the club, and how do we get peak per­for­mance on and off the field.

Tough ques­tions and it made for a tough day.

Of course a rugby club is just like any other busi­ness. It must de­liver. It must cre­ate share­holder value. It must gain share. It must win.

Job No 1 is for Quins to fin­ish in the top four ev­ery year – and to play the Quins’ way.

Then off the field the club must in­volve/en­gage/en­ter­tain and in­spire an ever-grow­ing fan base and au­di­ence to join the Har­lequins move­ment.

A big coach­ing call will be made shortly. A Kiwi or a lo­cal? And then maybe a team built around 19-year-old Marcus Smith, born in Manila, ed­u­cated at Brighton Col­lege and now un­der the tute­lage of Har­lequins legend – and one of our own – Nick Evans.

Off the field, David El­lis will be seek­ing to make the spe­cial re­la­tion­ship deal with NZRU show div­i­dends so Quins can con­tinue to thrive, grow and ex­cite all of us with their unique spirit – the spirit of Earle Kir­ton, Zinzan Brooke, Andrew Mehrtens, Nick Evans – all of whom wore the fa­mous shirt. I wish them luck and suc­cess.

Nun­quam Dormio.

This proud 150 year old club – founded in 1866, was de­ter­mined to keep grow­ing, keep dream­ing and keep in­no­vat­ing.’

ES­TAB­LISHED WAY The Har­lequins are one of the world’s most recog­nis­able and ad­mired rugby brands.

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