You might think that after losing in the semi-final of the Zurich Wild Card play-off's to Leicester Tigers that everyone would have deserted the training ground until mid-July. Well that could not be further from the case.
True, the majority of the players are now off on their summer holiday with Paul Pook summer fitness programme in hand and the skills development schedule put together by Paul Turner. However, since finishing the season we are already well into planning the 2003/2004 programme.
Last week, all of the players underwent a fitness testing session with both Paul (Pook) and Dave Bell. They also sat in on their end of season appraisal with all of the coaching staff and have undergone medicals run by Cameron Steele and Sarah Scott; so it has been a busy time.
Next week the coaching team are at a two day seminar on the 'management of the game,' where the coaching staff will meet with the referees and other bodies to discuss the issues we faced this season, and to look at ways we can improve the game for next season.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the playing management team along with senior players Andre Vos and Tony Diprose will be ensconced in a hotel for two days looking at how we wish to do things next season, planning our pre-season programme, looking at the way we wish to progress our game plan and discussing any areas (and I am sure there are plenty) that we can improve upon for the new season.
In terms of pre-season fixtures, we will be playing Beziers (in Beziers) on 13th August and Castres (in Millau) on 19th August. In addition to this, we are likely to have a game against one of the new Welsh Provincial sides during the final week of August and will finish our preparations with a home game, probably against a Zurich Premiership team, on Friday 5th September. These final two fixtures are still to be confirmed.
It is so important that next season we hit the ground running in terms of the Zurich Premiership. In each of the last three years we have got off to a poor start in the league and struggled for the rest of the season as a result of this. Next season, when we start against London Wasps on 13th September at the Stoop, it has to be different.
The squad will return to full training at Aldershot on Monday 30th June, although those away on international duty will be given a break before re-joining the rest of the squad, and those going to the World Cup will not be seen until November / December.
This weekend sees the climax of the Zurich Premiership season with Gloucester taking on London Wasps in the Championship decider at Twickenham. It has been a long season for both teams, but I am sure that they will put on a tremendous performance as they battle for the title of Zurich Premiership Champions.
Finally, this is just to remind all current Season Ticket holders that you have until next Friday (6th June 2003) to get your application in to the club office at the Stoop and secure your same seat for next season. I'm told that there has been a great response and high demand for season tickets for next year, and we are well on course to break all records once again.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.