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A special season for Harlequins on the horizon

Harlequins centre George Lowe is expecting a special year for the club, as they celebrate their 150th anniversary and target a return to the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four.

Starting life in 1866 as Hampstead Football Club before changing its name to Harlequin FC two years later, the club ranks among the six oldest clubs in England.

A special anniversary shirt – designed by Adidas – was launched on Friday in celebration of the landmark.

The immediate objective for Harlequins is to right the wrongs of last year, as they finished seventh in Aviva Premiership Rugby despite losing just two of their first nine games.

And Lowe, who is currently recovering from a hip operation, insists the players are desperate to kick off life under new director of rugby John Kingston in the best way possible.

“It’s a special year, all the players are aware of it and there’s a lot of stuff been planned for it,” he said.

“We are obviously very proud to put on the shirt, at some point it’s not going to happen again so you want to do it proud when you put it on and make those who came before you proud.

“Last season was disappointing in some ways; we started well but couldn’t maintain it, that’s what we are looking to improve.

“I am sure there’s lots going on behind the scenes with John (Kingston), we have a few new faces in and I am sure things will be freshened up a bit and we can push on for the top four.”

The history of Harlequins and their traditionally swashbuckling style of rugby is something that is not lost on the younger players in the club, particularly academy player Josh Ibuanokpe.

The prop is currently recovering from a neck ligament injury but is benefiting from a trust in youth that has recently produced the likes of Jack Clifford, Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler.

“Every day I hear more and more from the club, how much has gone into it over the years how much it means to everyone who is a part of it,” Ibuanokpe said.

“It becomes more important to you when you realise how important it is to everyone else, and how many people in the past it’s been important to.

“I feel like I am in the best place for my development as a player, for me personally I feel the systems are in place for young academy boys to get better at the highest level.”

The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 22 July at Cardiff Arms Park with the Finals at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit premiershiprugby.com/singha7stickets

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