Harlequins coaching staff take a bow; 2020/21 Premiership champs

Harlequins coaching staff take a bow; 2020/21 Premiership champs

For all the glory and fanfare afforded the 2020/21 Premiership winning side, the Harlequins coaching staff can take a bow for an incredible reversal of form, and a great deal of heart.

Lead by the likes of the lovable Joe Marler, skipper Stephan Lewies, and Marcus Smith on the field, it was the direction of the club’s management and coaching group who pointed and rebuilt the winning culture from the depths of despair felt earlier in the season.

Fans will not like to recall the destructive departure of former head coach Paul Gustard mid-season. It was January, and few would have believed that the side would remold itself, and run rampant in the knockout stages of such a crazy, Covid-19 affected season. Not so much crazy for the right reasons but certainly, a season-defining moment.

It was then that General Manager Billy Millard called on a tight-knit group and all brought into the understanding that ‘they could win this’ if the right culture was developed. And right they were.

Harlequins coaching staff can take a bow; 2020/21 Premiership champs

Nick Evans, Jerry Flannery, Adam Jones, and Charlie Mulchrone are coaching the attack and backs, defence and line-out, the scrum and kicking respectively. The four pillars of this season’s rejuvenation, all will feel that the efforts of the whole squad are due “full credit”. The colloquial saying is as familiar as ‘yeah definitely’ and the group dynamic is what is most appealing of the Harlequins coaching group.

Hugh Godwin described them as the ‘Quins collective, and the endorsement of a change in attitude can be given to Millard. The club’s board will have wanted to assign an individual the role yet, for all its invention and radical thinking, it has worked best at Harlequins due to each man having a vested interest.

All but Flannery have played for the club yet their collective values will have gelled when the coaching crisis came to a head. And when no single man was called out as the one director, some may have questioned that ideology. Yet, it has worked especially well. Related to the way the four men work harmoniously, as much as how the playing group took on the ethos. They all wanted to believe that from the lowest point, a new ambition might have been achieved.

On Saturday, June 26, that goal was met. Credit to the players, credit to the staff, and to all involved.

“It never comes down to one autocrat saying this is the way,” Jerry Flannery said in an iNews article. “It’s genuinely never come down to a casting vote. We’re not stupid, and if I wanted someone in a certain position and, say, Nick wanted somebody else, it’s better to keep the coaching group tight.

“When ‘Gussie’ left, there was a big vacuum. And either it turns into chaos or everyone steps up to take more responsibility. I know from when I was a player, when you feel empowered, you feel a lot more responsibility on the field, as opposed to someone telling you ‘this is what you do’. From the coach’s viewpoint, it feels like we are risk-sharing.”

Knockout rugby brought the best out of ‘Quins group

Few will be part of the one-on-one discussions, the forwards/backs squads, and the subgroups that will all be a part of the ‘Quins group effort over the last month. To firstly make the playoffs, and then to earn a place – and the whole dam thing. A huge effort.

Playing the semifinal and final as the away team, the pressure was on. It will have been here where the four members of the Harlequins coaching group contributed collectively, as well as individually. Stronger as a whole, yet each impressing different and complementary factors.

Collective ambition will be one component, yet after the darkest days in January/February, the above group used application, practice, and heart as the core qualities that every player needed to embrace. To applied themselves. Practice the agreed tactics and strategies, before the associated personal qualities together made the side a more complete unit.

While analysis of the ways and means of how, when, and why this side walks away as the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership champions is arguable, the who is clear for all to see. From the club captain Stephan Lewies, to the General Manager Billy Millard, both men’s and women’s teams have all contributed to a glorious club revival.

Titleholders for the first time since 2012, the four men who made up the Harlequins coaching group for 2021 can each feel well satisfied when they finally come down from the high achieved at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon. And even if a new head coach assumes the position, they can take nothing away from the gratifying sense that ‘Quins fans will hold for the men who returned a trophy to the proud, London club.



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