A professional rugby union club from London, Harlequins RFC is a former European champion. The first team won the English Premiership title in 2012 and has won the domestic knockout competition before. Among the side's most notable players are Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and James Horwill, who have all represented their countries. Along with the many test players who have played at the club, Harlequins is known for its development of homegrown talent. The first team play the majority of their home games at the Stoop, a 14,800-seater arena that lies a short distance from the home of English rugby, Twickenham Stadium. Also known as Quins, for short, Harlequins were also referred to as NEC Harlequins for a few seasons at the start of the professional era of rugby union, when naming rights to sides were frequently granted.
Originally known as Hampstead Football Club, Harlequins have been operating under their current name since 1870. Over the course of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, the club was itinerant, moving from new home to new home. Over the course of the last 100 years or so, the club has been much more settled, however. When Hampstead re-formed as Harlequins, some former members decided to start a rival club, which would become known as Wasps. As such, there is usually a fierce rivalry whenever sides from the two clubs meet in competition.
In 1963, the club acquired a former athletics track in Twickenham, which was used for training. Later it became the club's main home and a stadium was built to accommodate fans. The stadium is named after a former club player, Adrian Stoop, who played for England on 15 occasions, prior to the outbreak of the First World War.
In the early 1990s, Harlequins were among the leading clubs of the day. The club won the Pilkington Cup in 1991, reaching the final in the following two seasons. During the final days of amateur rugby in the top flight, the club had no less than seven of its squad who also played international rugby for England, including Will Carling, Jason Leonard, Brian Moore and Peter Winterbottom.
As of the 2017-18 season, Harlequins' squad of professional players has grown to meet the demands of a modern schedule of club games in the Premiership. As well as its retinue of English players, the squad is drawn from Samoa, South Africa, New Zealand, Wales, Namibia and Australia. Former players have included French internationals such as Thierry Lacroix, and Netani Talei, a Fijian back-row player.
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