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Ben Botica urging Harlequins not to underestimate Grenoble


Grenoble may not have the same star-studded line-up as Ben Botica’s Harlequins side, but the Kiwi fly-half insists they cannot underestimate their French opponents on Friday evening.

Conor O’Shea will call on every one of his international stars for the crucial European Challenge Cup semi-final at Twickenham Stoop, with the semi-final against Bernard Jackman’s side their final realistic chance for silverware this term.

While Grenoble do not boast the same plethora of Six Nations winners as Quins, their back three includes former Springbok Gio Aplon, and  fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski who kicked Guinness PRO12 leaders Connacht out of the competition in the last round.

Defeat to Saracens at Wembley on Saturday meant the south-west London outfit are all but mathematically certain to finish outside of Aviva Premiership Rugby's semi-final spots, but Botica is adamant there is no negativity in the squad ahead of the biggest game of the season.

“It was always going to be tough against Saracens as they are such a tough outfit, and unfortunately we couldn’t string it together at Wembley,” said Botica, who was at St Michael & St Martin Catholic Primary School in Hounslow on Wednesday to take part in an Aviva Tackling Numbers session.

“But the boys know this is a completely different competition. We’re playing knockout rugby so the excitement in the camp is outstanding.

“We played them [Grenoble] two years ago in pre-season, but we’ve not seen much else since, so we have had to do our homework.

“By all accounts they play a bit like us so it should make for a thrilling game of rugby. Their back-three in particular is so dangerous.

“They have Aplon at the back and he is lightning-quick. He’s very much like a Christian Wade type of character, where if you give him the space he will carve you up.

“Grenoble like playing out the back, getting the ball out wide, and we do all those things too so it will be a great match-up. We just have to make sure we don’t switch off in attack or defence for the whole game, or they’ll punish us.”

Aviva Tackling Numbers, in partnership with Premiership Rugby, is an innovative programme for 7-9 year olds which makes learning about numbers and financial education fun and engaging.

Through the programme, which is delivered by the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs, 64,000 children have been introduced to maths and numbers outside of the regular classroom environment.

Botica joined Harlequins teammate James Chisholm and England World Cup winner Will Greenwood at the Hounslow school to take part in a session and play in a game of tag rugby, and he is confident the scheme is making the subject more accessible than ever before.

“Combining sport and maths certainly makes the whole thing more fun,” he said. “And I know a lot of people – myself included – struggle to recall some of the things that they learned when they were younger.

“When I was a kid I used to like trying maths but couldn’t necessarily make all that much sense of it.

“So I certainly think this kind of method will help the information stick by showing the numbers in a different light, and the kids have reacted really positively to us being here and working with them.

“We had a maths quiz between James Chisholm and myself – which I’m delighted to say I won – before playing a bit of tag rugby as well, which has been great fun for the kids.”

Ben Botica was speaking at an Aviva Tackling Numbers session. In partnership with Premiership Rugby, #AvivaTacklingNumbers helps 7-9 year olds put foundations in place for better financial skills later in life through the power of rugby. To find out more and try a maths test, visit


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