The news that Paul Turner will be joining our coaching team as Assistant Coach to replace Richard Hill is very exciting news for NEC Harlequins.
Paul is rated one of the most innovative backs coaches of his generation. Having worked at Sale, Bedford, Saracens (albeit very briefly) and Gloucester, he is very familiar with the Premiership and what is required to succeed at this level. We now have a very experienced team based down at the Training Ground looking after both the first team and academy squads, and this must bode well as we look to improve upon last season's disappointing performances.
As I have reported previously, we are now very close to being able to announce one or two of our signings for the new season. There has been a huge amount of work put into the recruitment of these players, and again it is important that all the I's are dotted and the T's crossed before we confirm publicly the arrival of new players. Expect the first announcement very soon.
Congratulations must go to England for their tremendous win over Argentina last weekend and particularly to our own Alex Codling who made his international debut in this game. Alex actually played with a slight hamstring strain and has already been back in the medical room at the training ground for treatment. However, the injury is not serious and he should be back in action by mid-July once he returns from a well-deserved break. Before taking this break, Alex will be signing a new contract with NEC Harlequins that will keep him at the Stoop until at least June 2005.
Also on the international front, I am pleased to report that Keith Wood has returned from Ireland's trip to New Zealand in good health, although disappointed that Ireland did not win the first test, which they deserved to do.
Congratulations also to Pat Sanderson, Ben Gollings and Nick Duncombe who have all been selected for England's Sevens squad for the Commonwealth Games. After their success in Hong Kong they must have a real chance of winning a medal, and in wishing them well we also hope that they come back to Quins in one piece in early August.
Yesterday afternoon the draw for the Parker Pen Shield was announced. The competition is now on a knock-out basis in the early rounds, with games played home and away. In the first round we face the Welsh side Caerphilly and should we come through this, we are likely to face Heineken Cup quarterfinalists from last season Stade Francais, if they also get through their first round fixture.
You may already be aware that the first of our pre-season friendlies will be on Friday 9th August, when we will travel to Scotland to face Glasgow. We are looking to play a further game at the Stoop following this and hope to confirm details of this fixture next week.
Tony Copsey tells me that Season Ticket sales continue to go well. 3,000 have been sold already so if you want to guarantee your seat at the Stoop for next season, please complete your application form as soon as possible or ring the club office on 020 8410 6000.
Look forward to speaking to you all soon and enjoy this weekend's Football World Cup Final.
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.