Smiling assassins show Harlequins’ future is bright

·3-min read

When 20-year-old winger Louis Lynagh was hugging his father, 1991 Australian World Cup winner Michael, in the aftermath of Harlequins' sensational 40-38 Premiership Final win over Exeter at Twickenham on Saturday, not many of the 10,000 crowd were thinking ahead. All most of the squad were planning was a noisy night out.

Tabai Matson, the Fijian-born former Canterbury, Crusaders and Bath assistant, is favourite to be announced as head of rugby at the Stoop this week, but whoever takes over has their work cut out to improve on the last few months.

Before the final, the party line was that an extra pair of eyes would do no harm, but whoever does get the gig has a hard act to follow.

Rewind to January, when Paul Gustard was dismissed as head of rugby. Quins were seventh in the Premiership, had not won at home since August and there were rumours of player unrest.

So the club put their faith in people on the pay roll already instead of parachuting in a big-name. Billy Millard, the general manager, Nick Evans (attack and backs), Jerry Flannery (lineout and defence), Adam Jones (scrum) and Charlie Mulchrone (skills) took up the slack, with senior players like Joe Marler and Danny Care having their say.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

And it all added up to the club's first Premiership title since 2012 playing a brand of rugby alien to many casual fans used to some of the stodge served up in Tests. Saturday was about the walk to Twickenham from the Stoop, Marler's pink tracksuit backed up with a staggering

80 minutes, Jones's tears at the final whistle and the general mayhem that comes when an outsider gets home against the odds.

It was also about Quins refusing to abandon their attacking principles and their 'you score five tries, we'll score six' attitude espoused by Lynagh's second try that came when they were 33-31 up. Lynagh became the youngest try scorer in the history of the final, this version of which had 11 tries, and there are plenty more where that came from.

In Lynagh, Marcus Smith, Tyrone Green, Alex Dombrandt and Joe Marchant, Quins have exciting players who could be around for years, held together by the glue of Marler, Care and the captain, Stephan Lewies.

If Smith, Dombrandt and Marchant are not involved with England this summer — there are Tests against the USA and Canada — head coach Eddie Jones really does not rate the Premiership, and all three can expected to be named in the squad today . And if England give Smith his head, the sky is the limit.

As Care said: "With a player who is so instinctive, like Marcus, the last thing you want to do is force structure on him. His leadership is incredible for such a young guy. I am so happy for him, he has got the recognition that he deserves and now he has got a Premiership medal. Hopefully, he has got an incredible summer [ahead of him] and I know he has got an incredible future."

It is clear that the new head of rugby would be wise not to fiddle around too much. Care said he had been stopped in the streets by people praising the 'Quins way' of playing in the aftermath of their epic semi-final win over Bristol.

Next season will see London rivals Saracens back in the Premiership after a season doing time in the Championship for salary cap infringements.

"Without Saracens in it, we said this is the year to win it, because they are a completely different team to us," added Care. "We have fun the way we play the game, we hope we put smiles on people's faces and we have done it our way."

Who knows if they will go back-to-back? It will be fun finding out.

Read More

Harlequins win Gallagher Premiership title after 40-38 victory vs Exeter in epic Twickenham final