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Harlequins sign trio of international forwards

By Martyn Thomas
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 04: Sara Svoboda of Canada during the WXV1 match between France and Canada at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on November 04, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

Harlequins have announced a hat-trick of international signings ahead of the 2024-25 Premiership Women’s Rugby season.

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Canada back-row Sara Svoboda, Spain tight-head Laura Delgado and Sweden utility forward Maja Meuller each signed on the dotted line at The Stoop on Thursday.

Svoboda and Meuller head to south-west London from Loughborough Lightning, where they had both played their English club rugby since the 2020-21 season.

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Canadian flanker Svoboda, who has won 26 caps for her country and played at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021, made 42 league and cup appearances for Lightning, scoring five tries. Meuller, meanwhile, played 57 times for Loughborough and notched 12 tries.

They will be joined at Quins by Delgado. The Spain captain has represented Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester-Hartpury in the English top-flight, helping the Circus to back-to-back championship titles.

Delgado started Gloucester-Hartpury’s 2023 Premier 15s final victory against former club Exeter but did not take part in this year’s play-offs having returned to Spain to focus on Las Leonas’ WXV play-off against Wales.

“I can’t wait to start this new stage, I am delighted to have this opportunity to wear the colours of a classic rugby club,” Delgado said.

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“I am full of energy, enthusiasm and commitment to do my best and work to achieve our goals together.”

Svoboda added: “Heading into a World Cup year, I’m eager to embrace this new challenge and to do my utmost to uphold the tradition of Harlequins rugby.

“I’m extremely honoured to be the first Canadian women’s international to represent Harlequins and I’m beyond excited to make my mark alongside an incredible group of players.”

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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