On behalf of all the players, management and office staff I would like to thank each and every NEC Harlequins supporter who shouted themselves hoarse last Saturday to support the team. Many of the players have mentioned that the atmosphere at the Stoop last weekend was the best that they could remember. Certainly watching from the back of the West Stand, it was tremendous to hear the support given to the team and was greatly appreciated by all of us involved.
Not for the want of repeating myself, but our win over Newcastle Falcons came at a cost. Having lost Pat Sanderson to injury for the rest of the season the previous week, last Saturday Tu Tamarua dislocated his shoulder and will also miss the remaining five Premiership matches.
Tu has made a huge impact here at Quins since he arrived in September and will be greatly missed over the closing games of this season. He plans to return to Australia this weekend and I know that everyone at Quins would like to thank him for his efforts and wish him every success for the future.
Contrary to almost every published League Table, including the RFU's, following Saturday's win over Newcastle Falcons we in fact remain bottom of the Premiership. This season, where teams are equal on points, the Premiership position is based first on the number of league wins and then on points difference. This change was brought in this season and appears to have escaped everyone's attention!
However, the performance last Saturday has given us some confidence for the remainder of the season. It is a clichÃˆ to say it, but we will have to take one game at a time. Our next game is away at Bristol on Sunday 31st March 2002. The coaching staff led by Executive Coach Mark Evans are already preparing our game plan for Bristol, who we know will be tough opponents on their own ground despite a number of recent loses away from the Memorial Ground.
Tuesday evening saw our Second XV beat Worcester 47-5 in what was, despite the scoreline, a fiercely contested game. It was an ideal opportunity for the management team to watch a number of players including Fijian international full back Norman Ligairi, who had a successful debut for the club.
On the international front, we are all delighted to see Dan Luger back in the England side alongside Will Greenwood and, along with Jason Leonard, we wish them all the very best this Saturday against Wales at Twickenham. Keith Wood has withdrawn from the Ireland squad to face Italy this weekend due to a back injury. Having just played his first 80 minutes in over three months, understandably Keith was a little sore earlier this week but is confident he will be fit to lead the team against Bristol.
Both Nick Duncombe and Paul Burke are playing for their respective 'A' sides, while Chris Bell is in Italy with the England U19 squad taking part in the FIRA championship.
Back at Quins, we still have a lot of work to do if we are to ensure our survival in the Premiership for next season. Last Saturday's win was a start and nothing more than that. The hard work will continue and we are all now looking forward to playing Bristol.
I started by saying how great the support was at the Stoop last Saturday. We all know we are in a dogfight and the more Quins supporters that can travel to Bristol next weekend the better. Look forward to seeing you there.
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.