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May 23, 2013

Worcester Warriors bolster hooker ranks

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 05/23/2013

Worcester Warriors have announced the capture of hooker Chris Brooker from Harlequins.

Brooker suffered a serious leg injury back in March 2012 and has not played since, but the Warriors have moved quickly to snap up their man on a two-year deal. Worcester boss Dean Ryan admitted he was delighted to sign the talented front row forward and thanked Harlequins and his counterpart Conor O'Shea for allowing Brooker to make the switch.

"He will add greatly to the squad we are assembling ahead of the new Aviva Premiership campaign," Ryan said. "Chris comes to Warriors eager to re-launch his career, now he is fully recovered after being sidelined with a knee injury, and his appetite and desire will be evident to all. He is determined to be a success at Sixways and wants to perform not only for Worcester but also return to the form that brought him to the attention of England and push his internationals aspirations."

Brooker added: "I'm excited about becoming a Warrior. It's a new coach, new start and a new club for me. I want to come back and really impress, get back to where I was before I got injured and I truly feel this is the club to do that under the guidance of Dean Ryan."

April 17, 2013

Clegg to return to Newcastle

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/17/2013

Newcastle Falcons have announced the capture of Harlequins fly-half Rory Clegg on a two-year deal.

The 23-year-old England Saxons international, a Newcastle academy product, returns to the north east having made the switch to Quins where he has since made more than 50 appearances including last month's LV= Anglo-Welsh Cup triumph over Sale last month.

"The Falcons are a massively different prospect from when I was last there, with top-class coaches and a new hierarchy at the top now in place," said German-born Clegg, who was dual-registered with Leeds Carnegie this season. "Dean Richards has shown a lot of belief in me and I am grateful for that."

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards, who signed Clegg when in charge of Quins, said: "Rory is a talented No.10 who will no doubt bring a lot of quality to our backline. As a local lad he understands the passion for rugby throughout the region, and it is important that we have our home-grown players pulling on the Falcons jersey."

April 9, 2013

Harlequins line up new centre of rugby

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/09/2013

Harlequins have unveiled plans for a new centre of rugby at the Surrey Sports Park.

The new centre will be adjacent to the pitches Quins have used since 2010 and will include changing rooms, medical suites, video and statistical analysis suites, meeting rooms and a lecture theatre. Reigning Aviva Premiership champions Quins say work on transforming an existing building will start immediately, with players, coaches and support staff moving into the centre next September.

Quins chief executive David Ellis said: "Our players and coaches deserve the best training facilities that the club can afford, and now they will have them. This development represents a major investment by the club, and we are grateful to our owners and to the University of Surrey, in particular to the management of Surrey Sports Park, for making it possible.

"As part of our commitment to the park, we will identify future opportunities to share our knowledge and experience of the sport with members of the University community, and support any related academic programmes, research or teaching in an active and positive way."

March 29, 2013

Wallace named Discovery of the Month

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 03/29/2013

Harlequins flanker Luke Wallace has won the Land Rover Discovery of the Month award for February following a series of impressive performances.

The title is given to the best Under-23 player in Aviva Premiership and in winning the award Wallace beat an impressive field of young stars with Bath Rugby’s Tom Heathcote, London Irish’s Guy Armitage and Worcester Warriors flanker Matt Kvesic joining him on the shortlist.

“We believe the back row resources at this club are as good as anywhere in Europe and it is hard for young players to secure a regular place in the first team," said Quins boss Conor O'Shea. "Luke has made that breakthrough and is really pushing hard to start week in, week out. He is driven to achieve that for both Harlequins and at national level and I am sure he will record the latter in years to come."

March 9, 2013

Harlequins book place in Anglo-Welsh Cup final

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/09/2013

Harlequins stormed into the final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup final thanks to a 31-23 triumph over Bath at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

Tom Guest crossed first for Harlequins with Karl Dickson and a double from Tom Williams helping them towards their 31-point total. Bath crossed the line through Francois Louw and Nick Abendanon but they crashed out of the tournament to a youthful Quins side.

For the full match report - click here.

February 25, 2013

London Welsh bring in Seb Stegmann

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/25/2013

London Welsh have announced the capture of Harlequins winger Seb Stegmann on a two-year deal.

Stegmann was due to join London Welsh next season but following a request from his new side, Harlequins have allowed him to link up with the Exiles immediately. London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones said of the capture: "Seb is a good recruit for us; he’ll add a lot of strength to our squad. I'm really looking forward to working with him.

"He is another successful product of the Harlequins academy. He’s had a very promising career up till now and will benefit from playing more games."

February 23, 2013

Jason Leonard set to become RFU vice-president

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 02/23/2013

Former England and Lions prop Jason Leonard is reportedly in-line to take over as president of the Rugby Football Union in time for the 2015 World Cup after being voted onto the RFU board.

The 44-year-old Leonard won the nomination for junior vice-president next season by defeating former England captain John Spencer in a secret ballot during a RFU council meeting on Friday, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Leonard will need his nomination to be ratified at the RFU annual general meeting in July, but he is not expected to face any further opposition.

January 29, 2013

Harlequins confirm Paul Doran-Jones capture

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/29/2013

Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins have announced the signing of Northampton and England prop Paul Doran-Jones on a two-year contract.

He will step into the shoes left by James Johnston who will join Saracens at the end of the season. “While we were disappointed to lose James Johnston we recognise the need to have an experienced player to come in to supplement the existing tight head talent we have at the club in Will Collier and Kyle Sinckler," Conor O'Shea said. "With that in mind we are very fortunate to be able to bring in a player of Paul's ability.

“Not only is Paul talented, at his age he will only get better. He comes from a fabulous club and has been coached by one of the best forwards coaches in the country so I have no doubt he will add greatly to what we have at Harlequins."

January 25, 2013

Olly Kohn handed surprise Wales call-up

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/25/2013

The Welsh Rugby Union has handed Harlequins' lock Olly Kohn a surprise call up to the Wales squad ahead of the Six Nations.

With second rows Alun-Wyn Jones (shoulder), Luke Charteris (knee) and Bradley Davies (ankle) all currently unavailable and Ian Evans battling to overcome a knee injury, Kohn, who qualifies through his late grandfather, could be drafted straight into action against Ireland on February 2.

Receiving the call-up was surreal, and I can't wait to join up with the squad this weekend," Kohn said. "It is a really proud moment for me and a great opportunity to show what I can do."

Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley said: "We looked at Olly when we initially selected the Six Nations squad, and we have brought him in now as we believe he will be an experienced addition. He is a strong ball-carrier and dominant at the set-piece, and it will be good to see him in the international environment."

January 23, 2013

Quins confirm Stoop as euro venue

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/23/2013

Harlequins have announced that they will play their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Munster at their home ground the Twickenham Stoop.

There were suggestions that Quins could be tempted to switch the venue to Twickenham, a ground a matter of metres away and also where Harlequins had played various home grounds in the past, but they have opted to stay at their traditional base.

"The Stoop ranks among the finest club rugby grounds not just in this country, but also in Europe and is perfectly capable of hosting big occasions such as this quarter-final." said Harlequins CEO David Ellis. "Our players have worked hard to secure a home quarter-final and our loyal supporters have backed them every step of the way. It is only right therefore that we play the match where our players and supporters are most comfortable."

January 22, 2013

European Player of the Year longlist revealed

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/22/2013

European Rugby Cup (ERC) has unveiled the longlist for European Player of the Year. The panel (consisting of five individuals from the media side of rugby) has picked 15 players based on their form in the first six rounds of Amlin Challenge Cup and Heineken Cup action.

Wasps' Joe Launchbury is the only representative from the Amlin Challenge Cup with the other 14 coming from the Heineken Cup.

The Longlist: Steffon Armitage (Toulon), Rory Best (Ulster), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Wesley Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), Mamuka Gorgodze (Montpellier), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), James Johnston (Harlequins), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster)

Five of Harlequins' hotshots re-sign

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/22/2013

Harlequins have announced that five of their promising young players have re-signed with the Aviva Premiership club.

Fullback Ollie Lindsay-Hague, prop Darryl Marfo, back-row Joe Trayfoot, centre Charlie Walker and No.8 Jack Clifford have all penned new deals, much to the delight of academy manager Tony Diprose. He said: “They are critical to the continued success of the club, demonstrate the wealth of talent coming through and I have no doubt that they will all play a major role in working to keep Harlequins at the top of the game in England and Europe.”

January 16, 2013

Doran-Jones set to join Harlequins

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/16/2013

On the day Northampton confirmed the signing of Alex Corbisiero ahead of next season, their coach Dorian West has revealed that they are likely to lose England prop Paul Doran-Jones to Harlequins.

The Saints announced Alex Waller and Tom Mercey’s decisions to re-sign with the club earlier on Wednesday and also announced the recruitment of Corbisiero. But West believes that Doran-Jones will depart the club to fill the gap left by James Johnston at Harlequins.

“It’s pretty common knowledge that we’re losing Soane [Tonga'uiha] and Brian [Mujati] to Racing and I think we’re losing Doran-Jones to Harlequins as well,” West told the Northamptonshire Telegraph. “But we’ve got three good, young props we’ve signed there and we’re looking to add to those.”

Williams pens new Harlequins deal

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/16/2013

Harlequins winger Tom Williams has signed a new deal that will see him stay with the Aviva Premiership champions until the end of the 2014-15 season.

Williams has scored 52 tries for Quins and has also turned out for the England Sevens side. Quins boss Conor O'Shea was delighted with Williams' decision to stay at the club. "Tom's form over the last 12 months has been outstanding and we are all really looking forward to him continuing that over the coming years," O'Shea said. "Tom has already played 185 times for the club and at 29 has some great years of rugby ahead of him. He is one of the club's original academy graduates and his willingness to work with our younger players has had a big impact on their development."

Williams added: "I am delighted to be staying at Harlequins for a further two years. The opportunity to contribute to a club playing such an exciting brand of rugby with a group of ambitious and talented players made the decision to stay an easy one."

January 15, 2013

Harlequins shrug-off Johnston exit

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 01/15/2013

Premiership champions Harlequins have confirmed that prop James Johnston will be leaving the club at the end of the season, but feel they have enough depth to cope with his departure.

Johnston will sign for fellow-London side Saracens at the end of the season. The 26-year-old moved to the south-west London side in 2009 from Richmond and so far has made 88 appearances, including the victorious 2012 Premiership final. However, Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea admitted that his side could not match his demands, but welcomed the chance to bring through another academy graduate.

“We are very disappointed to lose a player of James’ ability,” O’Shea said. “He has developed greatly since he joined us four years ago and I’m sure he is destined for great things in the game. Unfortunately, given the constraints of the salary cap, we were unable to meet his financial expectations so he has decided to move on at the end of the current season.

"We’re in the fortunate position of having two of the most exciting, young tight heads props in the country coming through our system in Will Collier and Kyle Sinckler and we are confident that we will be able to recruit another experienced front row forward to complement them shortly.”

Chris Robshaw named writers' Player of the Year

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 01/15/2013

England and Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw has capped his breakthrough year by being voted Rugby Union Writers’ 2012 Player of the Year.

The 26-year-old was handed the England captaincy at the start of 2012 and led the team to second place in the SIx Nations during which their only defeat came to Grand Slam winners, Wales. He then became the first Harlequins captain to lift the Premiership trophy as the team from south-west London tore into Leicester Tigers to win their maiden title with a 30-23 victory in the Premiership final.

His came in for some criticism as England could only draw the third Test on a three-Test June tour to South Africa and his decision making came under fire in consecutive November losses to Australia and South Africa. However, he finished his year on a high as England became the first team to beat New Zealand since they won the World Cup in 2011 with a rampant 38-21 victory at Twickenham.

There was also a special award for former Wales and British Lions fly-half Cliff Morgan.