With the appalling weather conditions faced by both sides at the Stoop last Saturday afternoon, we were delighted to come away with the four points for the win over Bath. Because of the weather, we did not see some of the prettiest rugby of the season, but it is perhaps a measure of the improvement we have shown since the beginning of September that there was some frustration at our inability to finish off many of the chances we created.
As ever, the crowd support for the team was fantastic and it was greatly appreciated by the entire squad.
This weekend we face Saracens at Vicarage Road, an opportunity for many of us to get back to together with old friends both on and off the pitch. It will undoubtedly be a tough encounter. Although Saracens recent record does not look good, having lost five of their last six games, four of them were away from home and the defeat at Vicarage Road was against a much improved Leicester Tigers outfit.
Any team that has players of the quality of Kyran Bracken, Tim Horan, Kevin Sorrell (very underrated), David Flatman, Christian Califano and Abdel Benazi has too be respected and, at Vicarage Roan in particular, they are capable of playing some excellent rugby against the best teams in the country.
Much has been made in the press in the last few days over NEC Harlequins refusal to release Bill Satala to the Fijian national team. The facts are that Bill will be released to play for Fiji on Monday 11th November in accordance with the International Rugby Boards regulations with regard to the release of players for international rugby.
As with all such matters there are rules and regulations which have to be adhered to, and Quins are more than happy to abide by these regulations. Of course we have discussed the matter with Bill and, as with any player, he wants to represent his country, but he also very much wants to play for his club this weekend.
On the injury front, we are delighted to see the return of Keith Wood to action on Sunday. Keith had a scan earlier this week, which confirmed that he has fully recovered from the neck injury he suffered earlier in the season. He has been training hard, and although he is unlikely to last the full 80 minutes, it is a great boost to everyone to see him back in action.
Paul Burke expects to return to full training in the next day or so as does Chris Bell, so hopefully they will be back in action in the next couple of weeks. Dan Luger is also progressing very well and could be back in action soon, although it is still too early to say when.
Next Tuesday (12th November 2002), the Second XV will face Cambridge University at Grange Road in their ninth game of the season to date. Although a number of the youngsters will be away with England Under 21's, we will still have a strong team out that hopefully will include the unfortunate James Hayter. James has been injured for some 16 months now, but has shown great resilience to get back to fitness and it would be great if he could make the starting XV for next Tuesday evening.
Back to Sunday and the game against Saracens. With the league table beginning to split, it is essential that we begin to pick-up points regularly if we are to get ourselves in to the top six and stay there. Saracens will be thinking exactly the same and in front of the 'Fez heads' they will be looking to put-in a good performance having lost to Leeds last weekend.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.