RugbyPass have bid farewell to the West Country following our looks at Bath, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester, and now the 15 for 10 series moves east to London and Harlequins.
Aside from their title-winning season in the Gallagher Premiership in 2011/12, it has been a tough period for Quins, with the traditional English powerhouse having found themselves in the Challenge Cup rather than the Champions Cup in six of the nine full seasons within the decade.
In selecting the all-decade XV, some positions were obvious and beyond dispute while others were much tougher calls, with two or three players all with a valid claim on the spot.
- Mike Brown
We start with perhaps the easiest selection of all. Brown may not have been every England fan’s cup of tea, but his service to Quins, both in terms of ability and impact on the field as well as his longevity and durability off of it, has been exemplary. Since announcing himself during the club’s season in the Greene King IPA Championship, Brown has been a stalwart at the back for the Twickenham-based outfit.
- Ugo Monye
Another relatively easy call, Monye was the prototype wing that every club in the Premiership wanted. He was as reliable in defence and dealing with the contested aerial balls as he was incisive and explosive in attack. He spent his entire club career with Quins, which included five years at the beginning of the decade. Moving forward the likes of Gabriel Ibitoye and Cadan Murley will be hoping they can replicate the impact he had.
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13. Joe Marchant
Potentially recent bias is at play here, with George Lowe and Matt Hopper both having served the club with distinction over a longer period, but Marchant’s ability to unlock defences is perhaps in a league of its own in comparison. Quins fans will watch his upcoming loan to the Blues in Super Rugby with interest, as the young outside centre has already shown what a difference he can be for the club.
‘We have taken a lot of inspiration from Joshua-Ruiz’
– Paul Gustard tells @chrisjonespress how @Harlequins are using another sport to motivate them for Friday’s @ChampionsCup rematch with @UlsterRugbyhttps://t.co/09dbFt1ADV
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 10, 2019
- Jordan Turner-Hall
As with Lowe, it’s a case of what could have been for Turner-Hall had injuries not plagued him and forced him into an early retirement. He gave Premiership defences nightmares with his powerful carrying up the middle and he was unlucky not to finish his career with more than the two England caps he won. Despite retiring just over four years ago, Turner-Hall is still only 31.
- Tom Williams
Despite forever being linked with the Bloodgate scandal that rocked the club in 2009, Williams’ playing ability was considerable and his impact on Quins, which saw him make over 200 appearances for the club, shouldn’t be glossed over. After coming back from the twelve-month ban for his involvement in the incident, Williams put his head down and got to work on the opposite wing to Monye and was vital to helping the club lift the title back in 2012.
- Nick Evans
Perhaps the best import in Premiership history? Even if you are on the Schalk Brits side of that debate, there is no denying Evans’ place in this XV. He ran Quins’ backline with aplomb, was a reliable goal-kicker and, just like the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, he seemed to raise the games of the players around him. He is quite the mentor for Marcus Smith moving forward.
Sat down and chatted all things Quins with Paul Gustard, including 2018/19, recruitment, his approach to training, thoughts on leaving England, league-style defences and more. No cliches, just a machine gun of rugby knowledge. https://t.co/fLzReTvQ1A
— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) August 20, 2019
- Danny Care
Like Brown, Monye, Smith et al, Care has embodied Quins over the past decade and his livewire, high-tempo play at nine has been a big part of the ‘Quins DNA’ still being a talked about concept. He may have only deputised for Ben Youngs at international level, but he was the go-to man for his club and some of the best rugby that Quins have played over this period of time has come off the back of his sniping runs and quick service.
- Joe Marler
Another club stalwart, Marler has been with Quins since 2009 and is closing in on 200 appearances in the famous quartered jersey. Over the last decade he has established himself as one of the best loosehead props in the Premiership, not to mention singling himself out as the best scrummaging option that Eddie Jones and England can call upon.
- Joe Gray
Rob Buchanan definitely deserves an honourable mention here due to his consistency and longevity, though Gray was knocking on the door of regular England caps earlier in the decade. His early years at Quins saw him hit the highest form of his career and it did ultimately win him his one and only England cap in 2014.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 16, 2019
- Kyle Sinckler
A strong finish to the decade gives Sinckler the edge here over James Johnston, with the English tighthead’s ability in the loose and improving scrum fortunes of late singling him out as perhaps the most complete prop that Quins have been able to call on over the past 10 years. If his rumoured departure at the end of this season comes to be, Quins will find it hard to replace the British and Irish Lion.
- George Robson
Robson clocked up over 200 appearances for Quins in a nine-year spell that saw him lift the Premiership title in 2012 and forge an uncompromising partnership with Olly Kohn. Another of the Quins players unlucky not to have had more of a look in with England, Robson was the all-round player in the loose and valuable lineout target that complemented the size and power of Kohn in that engine room.
- James Horwill
The former Australian lock and captain arrived at a time when Quins’ fortunes were diminishing on the pitch and although that was a trend that no singular person could reverse, Horwill’s performances for the club, particularly in his second season onward, were exemplary. The commitment and quality that he played with always seemed vital to the wins that Quins were able to enjoy over the final few years of his career.
‘I’d seen arguably one of the worst things, watching your mother die. I went, ‘Right, what is the worst thing that can happen if I make a mistake on the rugby pitch?’
– Championship veteran @Toby__Freeman on his new lease of life in @premrugby
— liam heagney (@heagneyl) September 7, 2019
- Chris Robshaw
It seems inevitable that this spot was going to go to Robshaw for his years of excellent service, though that should not diminish the impacts that Maurie Fa’asavalu and James Chisholm have had. Fa’asavalu starred earlier in the decade, while Chisholm has prospered later in it, but it is Robshaw who has excelled over the entire span of it. An England and Quins captain, Robshaw is unfairly underappreciated due to the his struggles at the 2015 World Cup.
- Jack Clifford
A tough call between Clifford and Luke Wallace, with both having suffered their fair share of injury issues. We have leant towards Clifford due to him having a slightly more all-round skill set to complement the fetching ability that both have in spades. Were it not for those injuries, former England under-20s captain Clifford could well have established himself as England’s number one choice long before Tom Curry and Sam Underhill arrived on the scene.
- Nick Easter
Alex Dombrandt looks like a strong favourite to occupy this position in ten years’ time, although it was Easter who truly flourished in the 2010s. Even in his 30s, Easter kept on producing dominant displays and he collected the Quins player of the year award twice during the decade. In addition to his 281 appearances for the club, Easter also racked up 54 international caps for England and played in both the 2011 and 2015 World Cups.
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