Tag Archives: sport

Harlequins: Marking the End of the O’Shea Era

We don’t often cover rugby on this site but, and it’s a big but, Harlequins are Twickenham’s top flight team and in the last few years under the direction of Conor O’Shea the club has achieved some notable success including winning their first (and only) Aviva Premiership title in 2012. Now O’Shea’s leaving the club and heading to Italy, times are changing and we felt it was worth paying tribute to the man and the success he brought to The Stoop. Occasional twickerati roving reporter and big Quins fan Bill Webb-Ellis looks back on the O’Shea era and ponders on what the future may bring…

 

With the reduced, ‘de-funned’ (for which read, de-deathed due to excessive drinking) London 7s last weekend, as well as the Aviva Premiership semi-finals taking place, the players at Harlequins were busy posting photos of themselves in Cannes on Instagram. Their coach for the past six years however may well be ruing his send off the previous Friday night in the European Challenge Cup Final.

With 80 minutes played and trailing by seven points, Quins had possession in their own half, if they could get a converted try, they could take the game to extra time. The ball came to flyhalf, Ben Botica, who inexplicably kicked it up field, giving possession to Montpellier who carried it out to win the match and the cup. Botica had already signed to play for Montpellier next season, and the conspiracy theorists had a field day. In truth, the game had been lost in the previous 80 minutes with Harlequins out-muscled by Jake White’s strong South African bolstered side, unrecognisable from the team that Harlequins put 41 points past at home in November 2015.

Conor O’Shea arrived at Quins in March 2010 among the embers from Bloodgate, and took over from caretaker coach John Kingston after Dean Richards resigned and was then banned from rugby for three years. O’Shea won 35 caps for his country as a stylish full-back and had played, captained, coached, been Director of Rugby and even Managing Director of London Irish, before working for the RFU as Director of Regional Academies and then National Director of the English Institute of Sport.

In O’Shea’s first full season, he took Harlequins to victory over Munster at Thomand Park in a Challenge Cup semi-final, becoming only the second club to beat the Irish province at home in a European Competition. In the final, Quins beat Stade Français with a last-minute try from Argentinian wing Gonzo Comacho, sent through the French side’s defence by a grubber from Danny Care; the conversion by Nick Evans gave them the cup by a point, 19–18 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The confidence that came from the cup win after the lows and humiliation from the season before brought about a new Quins’ style. O’Shea held a summit with his four coaches as to what was needed to move on. The words and phrases that cropped up were leadership, culture, empowering players, discipline, and the response was immediate. In the 2011–12 season, Harlequins won their first 10 premiership games before losing to Saracens at Twickenham in the Big Game 4. A home playoff semi-final against Northampton Saints saw a 14-man maul go over the line for Joe Marler to score the winning try and secure a 25-23 victory.

Quins v Wasps [copyright Seconds Left Images]

Quins v Wasps  (Copyright Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images)

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RideLondon for SPEAR

Many of you will have had that familiar feeling when the mail comes through the letterbox and you just know it’s not going to be you — again. Another opportunity missed. Another chance to prove yourself among peers gone. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Or maybe this year. For those who like me, were rejected again by RideLondon (WHY ME?!?), there is still hope, and not only hope but the promise of helping others as well as testing yourself against the fastest.

It's a 'no'. But it doesn't have to be

It’s a ‘no’. But it doesn’t have to be

Local homelessness charity SPEAR have RideLondon places for cyclists willing to raise sponsorship for them. For an initial registration fee of just £30, you can secure a place to ride the 100 miles from the Olympic Park to the Surrey Hills before heading back to a spectacular finish on The Mall.

If you’re not aware of what SPEAR does, it’s been going for almost 30 years. Set up by local resident Penny Wade after two homeless people died in 1986 when sleeping rough in Richmond, SPEAR helps people from homelessness to independence. Initially a night shelter was started, but this became permanent accommodation on Kew Road in Richmond, now known as Penny Wade House, able to provide 14 people at a time with the chance to make a fresh start away from the streets.  SPEAR now operates across south and west London. Its head office is on Heath Road, Twickenham. Continue reading

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The Official Twickerati Visitors Guide to Twickenham

Twickenham. A town with balls.

Twickenham. A town with big balls.

Coming to Twickenham for the Rugby World Cup? You are? Welcome! Bienvenue! Ciao! G’day! The other ones!  You’ve probably already got all your plans sorted out for your visit, haven’t you? Beer, rugby, curry, more beer then get the hell out of here. Are we right? Probably, but we hope not totally. Twickenham is more than just rugby and we should know, we bloody live here. All the time.

We thought we’d give you a few pointers to non-rugby things you could do if you’re staying around for a few days. We’re not going to tell you about all the pubs, cafes and restaurants right in the town centre (you can find them yourself) or about the huge RWC Fanzone in the Old Deer Park in Richmond, you can find that too although don’t expect to find many old dears there, it’ll be far too noisy for them. We’re also not going to go banging on about the likes of Richmond, Kew Gardens, Hampton Court or even central London. You can do that yourselves.

First, some background on Twickenham…

The town is London’s premier leafy suburb. It is part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRuT) which is affectionately known as El Brute. Top dawg on El Brute Council is the Blue Baron. Yes, he’s a real person, yes he’s a real baron and yes he really is blue (politically speaking). The Blue Baron’s seat of power lies at York House, the Twickenham HQ of Richmond Council where naked ladies cavort in the grounds. There are naked horses there too. Kinky or what? Continue reading

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Rugby World Cup Questions Answered: What, When & Why

Rugby World Cup 2015FYI. It’s just over a year until Twickenham will ring to the sound of Sweet Chariots of Fire, the thwack of boot on ball and the gurgle of beer in gullet as the grandest egg chasing competition of them all comes to town. That’s right, it’s the rugby World Cup! And it’s not just an event that’s at Twickenham, we can expect the whole thing to feel a bit more, err, Twickenhammy all over than your regular set of internationals. It’s a big deal. If you’ve got questions about it then you’ve now got a chance to ask someone. We mean, of course, about how it will affect you and the town rather than about the fine detail of Stuart Lancaster’s team selection. Those World Cup organising committee types are running a ‘community engagement event‘ on the afternoon of Friday 27th June and the morning of Saturday 28th to answer your questions. Want more detail about timings? The image says it all – literally. Click to enlarge it and ye shall find.

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London Gets Pedalling… & Running & Bouncing

Olympic legacy

Olympic legacy

Whether you’re already into cycling or running, looking to get into either or both, or simply want to avoid the lycra clad loons who are, here are four events (and a family focused mini-festival) that may interest you, even if it’s only so you know where not to go. And yes, folks, the first of them is upon us now.

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FINAL UPDATE: From Our Own Correspondent: Lions Down Under

Taking photographs at major sporting events in glamorous locations is a bit of a pain but someone’s got to do it. Twickenham’s leading sports snapper Andrew Fosker of Seconds Left Images has the unenviable task of following the British & Irish Lions on their tour of Australia. Poor bloke. Andrew has taken time out from filing photographs of his ordeal to send dispatches for twickerati readers about the goings on down under.

We’re adding Andrew’s most recent postings at the top, so scroll down to see his previous dispatches

FINAL ENTRY – THE GRAND FINALE

Sorry for the delay to this final Lions 2013 entry; very busy final days in Sydney, the amazing series victory and 30 hours of travel took their toll on the blogging process…
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The Olympics Are Here

Well, they’re finally here.After much planning, building, ticketing, fussing, sponsoring, proud partnering and not a little last minute panicking the Olympics are upon us. At last. Almost. The army are getting ready, the athletes are here, and the presidents and their flunkies are upping the limits on their platinum credit cards. And hey, even some fans have turned up. Even little old Twickenham gets its slice of the games. So then, what we got?
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Quins = Champions!

Congratulations Quins!!! Under clear blue skies and a fierce early summer sun, Harlequins secured their first ever league title after beating Leicester by 30 points to 23 at Twickenham Stadium. The Aviva Premiership title is finally theirs! The town was buzzing before the match with flags of both teams adding to the festive atmosphere. The game itself was a close run thing (14-13 at half time) with plenty of incident and some exciting rugby on display. Quins pushed on in the second half, surged to a 30-13 lead before losing ground to the Tigers but did enough to keep them at bay in the tense dying minutes and secure the title. Winning their first Premiership title by beating the 9 times English champions in the season finale is a brilliant result for Harlequins and the perfect end to an excellent season for Conor O’Shea’s men. Expect some serious partying in Twickenham tonight!

WELL DONE YOU QUINS!!!

(And if you want to read one fan’s experience of a longstanding commitment to Quins you can do it here. David will be one happy man tonight!)

Here are a few pics. Add links to yours and we’ll stick ’em on here.
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Come on you Quins! A Fan’s View

Saturday 26th May 2012. Remember the date. It might just become one of the most significant in the history of Harlequins. On that day the mighty Quins take on Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium in a bid to lift the Aviva Premiership trophy for the first time. Victory over the Tigers will be a well deserved end to a season in which they topped the table since September. Put simply, it’s a massive game. In this guest item, Twickenham resident and longstanding Quins fan David gives his take on what it means to support Twickenham’s top flight rugby club.

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