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See Harlequin F.C. for the sister rugby union club
Harlequins Rugby League
Harlequins rugby league logo.png
Full name Harlequins Rugby League Club
Country England
Nickname(s) Quins , Quins RL, London
Founded 1980 (as part of Fulham FC)
Ground The Stoop,
(Capacity 14,816)
Chairman England David Hughes
Coach(s) England Brian McDermott
Captain England Rob Purdham
League Super League
2009 position 11th
Home colours
Away colours
Rugby current event.svg Current season

Harlequins Rugby League is a professional rugby league club representing the greater London area. They are currently the premier rugby league side in London, and play in the European Super League. London has one other professional team, the London Skolars, and also a substantial number of amateur teams, although the sport as a whole is predominantly played in northern England.

Until the end of the 2005 season the club were known as London Broncos, playing their last game under that name on 23 September 2005 and changing their name officially on 17 October 2005. Their current name is often shortened to Harlequins RL or simply to Quins. The club has also previously been known by its original name, Fulham, and then as London Crusaders.

The club play at The Stoop, which is also the home of the Harlequins Rugby Union club. The home shirt design is similar to the union club's famous multi-coloured quartered jersey (light blue, magenta, chocolate, French grey, black & green). It does, however, incorporate a Rugby League twist with the quarters forming a slight "v" shape. The away shirt for the 2009 season features pale blue and white quarters. The club's major shirt sponsor for this season is St Mary's University College, Twickenham




Previous rugby league clubs in London

Professional rugby league was briefly represented in London in the 1930s by London Highfield (who played only one season), Acton & Willesden (also one season) and Streatham & Mitcham (one and a half seasons). All were speculative clubs set up by local businessmen purely as money making exercises, and were ultimately driven out of business through poor finances. Thereafter, the sport in England remained exclusively a northern based game for over half a century.

Fulham Rugby League Club

In June 1980 Fulham Football Club announced the formation of a rugby league team, with the primary intention of creating another income stream for the soccer club. The Rugby Football League (RFL), keen to try and expand the sport beyond its traditional northern heartland, accepted the new club at once and one of the game's leading players, Reg Bowden, was recruited by the team to act as player-coach. Within only a few weeks weeks, Bowden had assembled an impressive team of experienced players approaching retirement, together with a few youngsters. Nearly 10,000 curious fans turned up for the opening game at Craven Cottage, most of whom, being Londoners, were watching their first ever live Rugby League match. The newly formed side surprisingly beat highly regarded Wigan 24-5 in emotional circumstances, in what has become a fondly remembered match for those fortunate enough to be present . The new Fulham RL team quickly proved to be very competitive and went on to win promotion at the end of their inaugural season.

After the euphoria that was generated in their initial season, immediate relegation in 1981-82 was a reality check. Despite winning the Division Two Championship the following year, a second immediate relegation coupled with continuing financial losses saw the plug pulled by the parent soccer club at the end of their fourth season. However, with the backing of supporters Roy and Barbara Close and with an enthusiastic new coach, former player Roy Lester, Fulham RL still had a future.

Fulham played "home" games against Swinton and Huddersfield in Widnes, Cheshire in April 1983 as the pitch at the Cottage had disintegrated in the wet winter following the collapse of the main drain to the river under the Miller Stand.

Between 1984 and 1994 the club spent periods based at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (1984-5 and 1990-3) and at Chiswick Polytechnic Sports Ground (1985-90). This decade was noted for its continued struggle both on and off the pitch, but the club still managed to keep its head just above water financially. They also several played one-off games at venues around London such as Wealdstone F.C., Hendon F.C., Brentford F.C. and Chelsea F.C.'s ground Stamford Bridge in 1983.

London Crusaders Rugby League Club

A 1991 name change to 'London Crusaders' coincided with an entertaining and slightly more successful period on the pitch. The climax of this spell was a 1994 appearance in the Divisional Premiership Final under coach Tony Gordon.

The Crusaders moved from Crystal Palace National Sports Centre to Barnet Copthall arena in 1993. The RFL briefly owned the Crusaders in 93/94 as the Bartrams departed.

London Broncos Rugby League Club

London Broncos Logo.jpg

In the spring of 1994 it was announced that the Australian NSWRL side the Brisbane Broncos was buying the club, which would be renamed 'London Broncos'. Gordon was replaced by a Brisbane coach, Gary Grienke.[1]

In 1996, despite not playing in the top flight, the London Broncos were selected by the RFL to be part of the new Super League competition on the basis that it was essential for the sport to have a high profile representative in the capital. Former Brisbane Bronco Tony Currie took up the role of Head Coach. The club moved to The Valley, the home ground of Charlton Athletic F.C.. The 1996 season brought the best attendances since the inaugural season at Craven Cottage. Tony Rea retired from playing at the end of the season to take up the Chief Executive role at the club.

After two years they moved once again, to the Harlequin rugby union club's Stoop Memorial Ground. Richard Branson's Virgin Group became majority shareholders, and the immediate future looked very bright. In 1997, after a remarkably good season they finished second in Super League. Highlights that year included victories at the Stoop over Canberra in the World Club Challenge and Bradford and Wigan in Super League II.

The logo for the club under the new name of Harlequins Rugby League

In 1998, as part of rugby league's "on the road" scheme London Broncos played Bradford Bulls at Tynecastle in Edinburgh in front of over 7,000 fans. Success continued in 1998 with a first appearance in the Challenge Cup semi-finals, losing to Wigan. Head coach Tony Currie left the club at the end of the 1998 Super League season and was replaced by Dan Stains.

In 1999, the club went one better, having its best cup run to date. Following a famous semi final victory over Castleford, the Broncos reached the Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium for the first time, but were defeated 52-16 by Leeds. The club sacked Stains after the Broncos endured a long losing streak during the Super League campaign. Tony Rea was appointed temporary joint head coach with Stains' assistant Les Kiss. Rea and Kiss managed to steer Broncos out of the slump.

After a second brief spell back at The Valley, fervent supporter David Hughes purchased the majority shareholding from Virgin in a major restructuring of the club. In 2000, John Monie was appointed head coach. Monie only stayed in the job until the last month of the 2000 Super League season with the club endured a mediocre season during his tenure. Rea took over caretaker coach until the end of the season and Broncos sailed to mid-table security. Rea resigned his Chief Executive role at the end of the 2000 season to become head coach on a full-time basis.

York made an approach to Virgin to buy the London Broncos in August 2001 and form a merged club under a new name, York Wasps Ltd, to play in Super League. [2]

In 2002, the Broncos moved back across London to play at Griffin Park as tenants of Brentford F.C.. 2003 marked the club's first Super League play off appearance, losing in the first round to St Helens 24-6 at Knowsley Road.

The 2005 season was marked by significant activity off the pitch as the club welcomed new chairman and majority shareholder Ian Lenagan who had bought up 65% of the shares. This was followed by the announcement of a partnership with Harlequins F.C. rugby union club that would see the side return to Twickenham Stoop, this time re-named as Harlequins RL for the 2006 season.

Harlequins Rugby League Club

Harlequins RL take on St Helens in their first ever home match in their new guise on 11th February 2006
Harlequins RL vs St Helens in 2006, the first game under in their new guise

Ian Lenagan became the majority shareholder in Harlequins RL in July 2005. The new franchise started 2006 with a goal of 5,500 average home ground attendance by mid 2007.[1] On 8 July 2006, after a disappointing run of form for the team, the Harlequins Rugby League club announced a re-organisation of the coaching set-up. Rea was replaced as head coach by Leeds Rhinos' assistant coach Brian McDermott, but was appointed to a position on the club's board of directors. He has since left this position.

The team completed its first season as Harlequins RL with 7th place in Super League XI. Although finishing strongly to avoid relegation, the run of 4 consecutive home defeats at the start of the season proved difficult to overcome. Super League XII in 2007 saw the team finishing 9th falling short of contention for a playoff spot.

In December 2007, Chairman Ian Lenagan became owner of his home town club Wigan Warriors. Although handing over to a new Chairman Keith Hogg, Ian Lenagan will be allowed to maintain a major shareholding for a further two years.

Previous kits

The different incarnations of the club have each worn different playing kits. The original Fulham team wore an all black kit with a broad white chevron, trimmed with red, on the shirt which was unaltered during that club's existence. As London Crusaders, the kit used the same colours again, but in a variety of designs over the seasons. London Broncos wore red, yellow and blue also in a variety of styles, with red being the predominant colour for the last 5 years of their existence.


Coaching staff

2010 Squad

Harlequins RL 2010
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coach

  • (c) Captain
  • (vc) Vice captain

2010 Signings/Transfers


Player Previous Club Years Signed Until the End of
Australia Oliver Wilkes Wakefield Wildcats 3 Years 2012
Wales Matt James Bradford Bulls 3 Years 2012
England Andy Ellis Barrow Raiders 2 Years 2011
England Ben Jones-Bishop Leeds Rhinos 1 Year Loan 2010
England Ben Jones Leeds Rhinos 1 Year 2010


Player Signed for When left
Wales Matt James released by mutual consent Mar 2010
Malta Matt Gafa Retired Oct 2009
Republic of Ireland Gareth Haggerty Widnes Vikings Oct 2009
England Joe Mbu Retired Oct 2009
England Jon Grayshon Widnes Vikings Oct 2009
Scotland Mick Nanyn Leigh Centurions Oct 2009
Scotland Daniel Heckenberg Retired Oct 2009
England Matt Gardner Widnes Vikings Oct 2009
Australia Chad Robinson Released due to persistent knee injury Jan 2010

Players Earning International Caps while at Fulham / London Broncos / Harlequins

  • Tony Clubb, for England while at Harlequins 2008 Wales, 2009 France
  • John Dalgreen, for Great Britain while at Fulham 1982 Australia
  • Lee Greenwood, for England while at London Broncos 2004 Russia, Ireland
  • Sylvain Houles, for France while at London Broncos 2001 South Africa
  • Chris Melling, for Great Britain while at Harlequins 2007 France
  • David Mills, for Wales while at Harlequins, 2006 Scotland
  • Mick Nanyn, for Scotland, while at Harlequins, 2008 RLWC
  • Rob Purdham, for England while at Harlequins 2006 France, Tonga x 2, Samoa
  • Julien Rinaldi, for France while at Harlequins, 2007 Great Britain, 2008 England
  • Tyrone Smith, for Tonga while at Harlequins, 2006 Federation Shield
  • Paul Sykes, for England while at London Broncos 2005 France, New Zealand, for Great Britain while at Harlequins 2007 France

Other Notable Players

See here of a list of London Broncos players.


Individual player records

Team records

See also


  1. ^ Rae, Richard (2006-02-05). "London calling". From The Sunday Times (Times Newspapers Ltd.). Retrieved 2009-12-27. 

External links

Redirecting to Harlequins Rugby League


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