Harlequins are the current champions of England, having won the title after a thriller final against Exeter last June. They are a historic team, with its roots going back all the way to 1866.
Why are they called Harlequins? Originally founded as Hampstead Football club, the members wanted to use the same monogram “HFC” when renaming the team and so they went for Harlequins.
The original team that was founded all the way back in 1866 was named Hampstead Football Club. But only four years into the team’s creation, the members decided to rename the club, but they wanted to still use the monogram HFC to help represent their previous name.
The members were also looking to continue using the team’s motto “Nunquam Dormio” which is Latin for “never sleeps”. There was a lot of controversy about the name changes. There was much discussion about this name change before half of the members settled on the name “Harlequins”.
The disagreement was so profound that board member William Alford left the club, taking half the membership with him. Alford went on to form the rugby club now called Wasps, who still compete in the premiership against Harlequins today. Harlequins are not the only team with the Harlequin name.
A Harlequin is best known as a comic servant character that first appeared in the 1500s. Harlequins became popular with higher classed members of society who could afford to have their own comics perform for them. The Harlequin was also distinctive for one reason, the quartered clothing that they would wear.
This is a big reason for why the classic Harlequins kit is quartered, much like the Harlequins characters were. There was not really much reason why they settled on this name other than the letter H. Harlequin is not a name commonly used in sports teams as it certainly does not strike fear into opponents.
It was also not commonly used at the time. The Victorian period saw new teams being created that used the names of insects, birds of animals. Wasps, the team formed because of the disagreement in the change of Harlequins name, was founded around the same time but used the name Wasps after the insect.
But the historical nature of Harlequins means it is likely the team will never change the name, having made connections with other teams also using the Harlequins name like Pretoria Harlequins from South Africa and Kenya Harlequins. To those teams, they are known as the London Harlequins.
Have Harlequins won the Premiership?
Harlequins rugby have won the top division of English rugby twice. The first came back in 2011-12. Two years on from the Bloodgate scandal that rocked the club, Harlequins were coming off the back of a pretty good bounce back season, having won the Challenge Cup against Stade Francais.
Their fortunes in the league were much improved, jumping from seventh the prior season to finishing first in the regular season. It set up a home semi final against Northampton Saints at the Stoop. In a tight contest, Quins won thanks to a 77th minute Joe Marler try to take them to their first Premiership final.
In this final, Harlequins faced Leicester Tigers who had won three of the past five titles and were attempting to overcome their final defeat from the previous season. Much like the semi final it was a tight affair that was mainly decided by six Nick Evans penalties. Quins won the game 30-23 to win their first Premiership title.
From there, Quins went to two more semi finals before missing the top four for six straight seasons. In 2020-21 they looked likely to miss the playoffs again, sitting in seventh at the turn of the year. Mid way through the year, Paul Gustard left his role as Director of Rugby.
Despite a huge amount of adversity, Harlequins won 10 of their next 14 games to squeeze into fourth to earn a place in the playoffs. Their young core of stars fell behind 28-0 against Bristol Bears only half an hour into the game. It seemed over for Quins with some fans turning their screens off after the fourth try was scored.
Incredibly, Harlequins recovered to finish the game tied at 31 all before going on to win 36-43 in extra time. This led them to the final against Exeter Chiefs who were defending champions. This final turned into the highest scoring final in Premiership history. Thanks to two late tries from Louis Lynagh, Quins secured their second title with a 38-40 win over the Chiefs.
Who is Harlequins club captain?
Harlequins current club captain is Lock Stephan Lewies. The South African began his career back in 2012 when he was promoted from the youth ranks into the first team of the Sharks. Lewies played 63 times for the Sharks before moving to the Lions for the 2019 season. After just one season with the Lions, Lewies moved to Quins for the 2019-20 season.
The 30 year old brought a lot of experience to the Harlequins side. With youngsters like Marcus Smith, Alex Dombrandt and Joe Marchant spearheading the team, they looked to Lewies for experience and leadership. His captaincy seemed to go pretty well.
Lewies started both the semi final and the final as he was also captain as Harlequins won the premiership title thanks to a pair of incredible results. Lewies is still currently club captain and his future is committed to the team. You would imagine that he will stay in this role while the young stars gain more experience.
Where are Harlequins based?
Harlequins are based in Twickenham, a district in south-west London. The team are located at the Stoop, a ground which they acquired in 1963. The Stoop is located just opposite Twickenham Stadium which is the home of the England National rugby team. The premiership final is also held at Twickenham and so last year, all of the team walked across from the Stoop to Twickenham just before the final.