New boss John Kingston is already having a big impact at Harlequins – that’s according to winger Marland Yarde.
Former head coach Kingston replaced Conor O’Shea as director of rugby at the Twickenham Stoop over the summer and has enjoyed a mixed start to his tenure, with an opening-day victory over Bristol being followed by losses to Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs only to then inflict a defeat on reigning Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens.
Quins have become renowned for their expansive, flowing style of rugby over the past few years and while Yarde says the club haven’t abandoned that, he claims Kingston has ensured they are more pragmatic.
“John was never going to completely change the way that we play away from that Quins style; the players enjoy playing with a bit of freedom,” explained Yarde, speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva Community Fund alongside team-mates Danny Care and Jack Clifford.
“But I do think this year we have come in with a smarter approach. In previous years maybe we’ve gone too far with playing with style.
“This year we’ve tried to change our tactics up a little bit and become a team that is going to be more unpredictable in the way that we play, so if we need to kick or run or pass then the options are all there.
“So we needed to mix up our game a little bit more, be a lot more structured in our own half, and together those things will allow us to pressure other teams more and be successful.”
The Aviva Community Fund is a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to local communities by offering support and funding for inspirational local causes.
The ACF has already benefited over 320,000 people, through 431 winning projects across the UK, and this year, local grassroots sports clubs can apply or reapply for funding in a new, sport-specific category.
And Yarde has been impressed by what the scheme is trying to achieve.
“It’s great to be part of a nationwide initiative like this that is lending a helping hand to the local communities,” he added.
“You want to get kids playing more rugby and schemes like this offer support and funding for them which is great. It’s very important.
“I was a pretty late starter in rugby, but chatting to most of the Harlequins guys they were members of rugby clubs from very young ages, and that is where you develop the joy and love for the sport.
“If you can reach out to as many of these kids as possible they are going to discover the same thing very early on, and that is going to stand them in great stead for the future.”
Harlequins finished seventh in Aviva Premiership Rugby last term to miss out on the European Rugby Champions Cup and Yarde acknowledges that there is an expectation around the club to do better this year.
“There’s always going to be pressure on us regardless of the coaching situation,” he said. “Quins is a big club, people expect success from us, and the players want to be part of a winning team.
“So we have to make sure we enter this season with that same attitude and play with confidence.
“We are desperate to make sure our home form is good enough that we can push into the top four and give ourselves a chance of lifting that Aviva Premiership trophy again.”
Premiership Rugby and the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs are supporting the Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative which offers funding of up to £25,000 to grassroots sports clubs and other community organisations close to your heart. Enter at aviva.co.uk/community-fund from September 13.