January 27th 2004 sees the Natal Sharks' third trip to the Stoop Memorial Ground to take on the Mighty Quins.
Natal Sharks have been coming to the Stoop for the previous two years. In 2002 they played Quins, and in 2003 played Quins and then the Investec Stormers in a unique Super 12s 'double header'. This was the first game between two Super 12 sides outside the Southern Hemisphere.
February 2002 saw the first visit from the Sharks with them running away with the game 31-13. It was a fabulous game played in front of a full house at the Stoop with the likes of Stefan Terblanche (39 Caps) Andre Snyman (36 Caps) and Thinus Delport (20 Caps) all gracing the Quins pitch. The game was strewn with errors in what was appalling conditions. The South Africans had never seen weather like it with the rain lashing down almost horizontally. Quins put out a strong side in the first half and were leading at half time but with six replacements made at half time and losing Karl Rudzki to the sin bin within the first 10 minutes of the half, the Sharks started their dominance of the game. With four tries in the second half, the Sharks put their mark on the game and went home with the trophy.
The second visit in 2003 included a double header between the Investec Stormers and Sale Sharks up at Heywood Road before the two Super 12 teams clashed at the Stoop. The game between Quins and Natal saw Andre Vos playing against some of his South African counterparts. It was an epic battle which saw Quins leading 19-3 with just 22 minutes to play but the Sharks score 29 unanswered points before the final whistle to take the trophy for the second year running.
All three games at the Stoop saw electric atmospheres with over 24,000 people coming to watch and take part in the historic occasions. With live bands, authentic Braais, the Press Up Boys and dancing girls, this year will be bigger and better.
Andy Lee, Managing Director of Sportingclass and the instigator behind the Sharks trips says, "We are delighted that Natal have agreed to come back and play Quins for a third time, it shows the great success of the trips in the past and this year will be no exception."
This year also sees the re-launch of the Springbok Supporters Club (SSC) at the game between the two clubs. There are currently over 500,000 South Africans living within the M25 and the SSC gives them the chance to meet each other, meet South African players, and the opportunity to get to the Test match between England and South Africa in November at Twickenham. For further details about the SSC please contact Nicola Simpson on 020 8410 6048 or email@example.com
Tickets are currently on sale through the Quins ticket hotline 0871 871 8877 or by logging on the website www.quins.co.uk.
For further information about sponsorship opportunities or hospitality for the event please contact Matt Wasley on 020 8410 6022 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.