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.
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.