TOP BAR - Fixtures

John Kingston sets his sights on Harlequins’ 150th season

New Harlequins director of rugby John Kingston admits that with all eyes on the club in its 150th season, they need to meet their fans’ high Aviva Premiership Rugby expectations again.

Harlequins have finished outside the top six in both of the last two seasons after a golden few years which saw them lift the Aviva Premiership trophy back in 2012.

But following the departure of Conor O’Shea, Kingston and Graham Rowntree lead Harlequins into a new era in a landmark season for the club.

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, and Kingston is determined to see the club lifting silverware in the new gear this term.

“I think the added pressure lies in the fact we have not been where we want to be, and that tells you the standards we set because we reached the final of a European trophy last year,” he said.

“What pressure is on us lies in looking to get into the business of winning trophies, we had a golden two or three years, it’s a little while ago now, we want to try and get back to that.

“The fact that it’s our 150th year, of course it would be lovely to win something but it would have been lovely to win a trophy in our 149th too.”

Kingston joined Harlequins in 2001 and was head coach last season as the club reached the European Challenge Cup final against Montpellier.

Around two-thirds of the Harlequins squad have returned from their summer break while some, who featured in international summer tours, have only just started.

Kingston is expecting the full squad to be reunited in August and already has his feet firmly under the table in his new role, with recruitment and the management of players and staff high on his agenda.

“It’s about me focusing in on the things I think are priorities,” he said.
“We have got to make sure we get the recruitment right,  the management of the players is right and that the management of the playing staff is right.

“I am looking and will be looking at challenging constructively various departments in various areas, including the coaching side.

“It’s about people getting used to me not being out on the field all the time, certainly not barking the instructions all the time, but taking a bigger overview of what’s required and what’s necessary.

“I’m just the figurehead and it’s a team thing, it’s a team effort that will get this great club to the places it wants to be.”

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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