You could tell we were into full rugby practice this week at Aldershot; the heavens opened and it has poured down with rain for most of the week - good practice for those damp Saturday afternoons in late November!
Training is going well, as it would be at this stage of the season. The squad led by Andre Vos is showing a great deal of enthusiasm and spirit, as they work through the new defence drills with John Kingston and Paul Turner.
Next week Mike Worsley, Ace Tiatia and Tani Fuga will join us, as we go into the last six weeks of our preparations for the Zurich Premiership season.
On that note, we expect to announce very soon some changes to the fixture list, revolving around the two midweek games against Leicester and the away match against London Wasps next April, which clashes with the dates of the European semi-finals.
These changes will result in us playing Zurich Premiership games on England's away dates in the Six Nations Championship, which I am sure will cause one or two of you an interesting dilemma!
This Saturday the squad will be at the Stoop taking part in the NEC Pro-Am Sevens competition along with NEC staff. NEC have been a partner to Quins for a number of years now, and this is an annual event that both the players and NEC look forward too immensely.
We have just ten days to go before we travel to France for our warm weather training. The matches we are playing over there are as follows:
Wednesday 13th August 2003, Beziers, at Beziers, Kick-Off 6.30pm (local time)
Tuesday 19th August 2003, Castres, in Millau, Kick-Off 8.00pm (local time)
In addition to these two fixtures, we will be flying a number of players back from France on Friday 15th August to take part in the Middlesex Sevens the following day. The squad will include the likes of Pat Sanderson, Ugo Monye and Luke Sherriff, as well as a number of our exciting academy squad, such as Tom Williams, Adrian Jarvis and Tom Guest.
Once we get back from France the action is non-stop, with training and further matches against Gwent Dragons, London Welsh and then the final pre-season friendly at the Stoop against Saracens on Friday 5th September, when it will be good to see our old friend Alex Codling running out for the Fez heads.
After last Saturday's demolition of Australia, New Zealand look to be odds on favourites for the Tri-Nation's competition, as well as the World Cup. Many people are seeing it as being a two horse race between New Zealand and England, but it would be foolish to write off Australia at this stage. They have a tremendous track record when it comes to the big event and it is being played on their home soil.
Once again I hope you all have a good weekend; there are not many left now before the rugby begins!
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.