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HISTORY OF HARLEQUINS

Recognised for its famous quartered shirt, the Harlequin Football Club ranks among the five oldest clubs in England and looks back at its history very fondly.

Harlequins was founded in 1866 as the Hampstead Football Club and renamed in 1870. Harlequins’ first recorded match was against Clapton and was played at Hackney Down on 16th November 1867.

The early years of HFC were demanding on all concerned as the new club gradually found its place in a new sport. More clubs were established in the London area and by 1886 Harlequins had a full fixture card that featured matches with Blackheath, London Scottish, Richmond, Oxford and Cambridge among others.

In the early years of the 20th century, the Club was home to three players who were to have a big impact on the development of the game: Ronnie Poulton-Palmer – the most outstanding three-quarters of his era, sadly killed in the First World War; Adrian Stoop – credited with the development of half-back and midfield play, and William Wavell Wakefield – an outstanding forward who had a profound influence on the tactical development of the game.

Throughout its history Harlequins has been a breeding ground for world class players, many of whom have worn the England shirt with distinction. The Club’s first capped player was William Leake who played for England against Wales at Newport on 3rd January 1891.

Among a distinguished list of notable former players to have worn the England shirt since are: Paul Ackford, Will Carling, Tony Diprose, Nick Duncombe, Will Greenwood, Bob Hiller, Jason Leonard, Brian Moore, Ronald Poulton-Palmer, Jamie Salmon, Chris Sheasby, Micky Skinner, Micky Steele-Bodger, Adrian Stoop, Wavell Wakefield, Peter Winterbottom and Sir Clive Woodward.

That tradition has continued into the 21st Century with the latest generation of players playing age group rugby for England and eight current senior squad players being part of the England Elite Player Squad announced in December 2016 including Mike Brown, Danny Care, Jack Clifford, Joe Marchant, Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Kyle Sinckler and Marland Yarde.

In April 2017, both Marler and Sinckler were selected for the British and Irish Lions to tour New Zealand.

Harlequins won the RFU Clubs’ knock-out competition on two occasions – the John Player Cup in 1988 and the Pilkington Cup in 1991.

Success in Europe has come with the professional era. The Club became the first British team to win the European Shield – now known as the Challenge Cup, in 2001 with the defeat of Narbonne.  Further success came in 2004 against Montferrand and in 2011 against Stade Francais.

In 2008, Harlequins hosted its first Big Game; an annual Premiership match held at Twickenham Stadium in the week between Christmas and New Year. This season, Big Game is in its tenth year where Harlequins will host Northampton Saints at the home of English rugby.

The Club has also won the country’s premier sevens tournament – the Middlesex Sevens, on 13 occasions.

Harlequins topped the RFU National Division One in 2006 and also won the Powergen National Trophy in the same year. The Club’s greatest achievement to date was becoming Aviva Premiership champions by defeating Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium on 26th May 2012.

The Club also won the LV= Cup and the Aviva ‘A’ League in the 2012 /13 season. The Academy’s players won the Premiership U18 League in February 2017.

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