Last Friday I had lunch with one of our new recruits, Mike Worsley. Mike was preparing to travel to New Zealand with the England squad for their three match tour of New Zealand and Australia, before possibly joining up with the second England party in North America
He is really looking forward to coming to Quins, although it has to be said that at this moment in time he has no idea when that will be, as he may well be part of Clive Woodward's World Cup training squad to be announced at the beginning of August.
The majority of the squad and the Academy players will return to training on 30th June 2003, although a number of players, such as Tani Fuga, Karl Rudzki, Ace Tiatia and Scott Bemand, will all be on rehabilitation programmes having recently undergone operations. All these players are expected to be fit for the opening Zurich Premiership game of the season against London Wasps at the Stoop on 13th September.
In addition to our two games in France, against Beziers (13th August) and Castres (19th August), we are now also able to confirm that we will be playing Gwent (Newport/Ebbw Vale) on Monday 25th August, kick-off 2.30pm at Rodney Parade. As this is a Bank Holiday, hopefully many of you will be able to travel down to Wales for this the third of our pre-season fixtures.
We are still hoping to organise a Second XV game around the 30th August, to be played at the Stoop, as well as a First XV game that will take place on Friday 5th September, again at the Stoop.
As many of you are aware, we still have one further signing to announce and hopefully will be in a position to confirm the player concerned sometime next week. He to will be looking to join up with the squad in early July and will be available to play for Quins at the beginning of the new season.
Next season there will be a new Second XV league, which will start after the World Cup. This is something that we at NEC Harlequins believe to be absolutely vital to continue the development of our young players in order that they are ready to step into the Zurich Premiership. Prior to this, we will be looking to continue our fixtures against the Army and the Universities, as well as some newer opponents such as the RAF and the Navy.
Next Friday will see England Under 21's start their campaign in the Under 21 World Cup against Australia at Iffley Road, Oxford, kick-off 7.00pm. Included in the England squad are Ugo Monye, Chris Bell and Henry Barratt, and we wish them all the very best in what is bound to be a very tough competition.
It remains a busy time as we prepare for the return of the squad in three weeks time. Following our playing management meeting at the Shepperton Hotel yesterday there is much to do. As ever, there were many good ideas to come out from the group and now we must move these ideas forward as we strive to improve upon our performance from last season.
EARLY BIRD OFFER COUNTDOWN - TWO DAYS TO GO!
If you renew, upgrade or buy a new Season Ticket before the close of play on Friday 6th June 2003 then you will receive:
FIRST RESERVE on your seat from last season
10% ONE OFF VOUCHER at the Quins shop
EASY PAYMENT option opportunity
To request a brochure, purchase a Season Ticket or for further information, then please call the Quins Office on 020 8410 6000.
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.