Harlequins Women Shut Up Shop As Sport Goes Viral

Sport the glorious irrelevance that it is, has never been more irrelevant than in the current climate, where life and death are on the line, and yet it is at times like these we need that glorious irrelevance the most.

During difficult times sport is the one constant, whatever else is going on in life, sport, and in our case rugby, is always there for us through thick and thin. It takes us out of ourselves and whether playing or watching it is a glorious escape.

This time though that particular escape route has been closed off, and we are going to have get through things unaided, at least in the sporting sense.

At Surrey Sports Park in Guildford last week, the shutters were down. The vibrant area known as “The Cube” , the training headquarters of Harlequins Women, was closed for business.

The usual hubbub, banter, smiles handshakes and warm hugs were conspicuous by their absence, with just a passing number 1 bus filled with masked passengers to break the silence.

On the pitches overlooked by a deserted Starbucks, the warm hazy sunshine gave the feeling of Spring, the air felt fresh, the aroma of cut green grass filled the nostrils, and for once you could hear the birdsong.

The traffic on the A3, a lively artery from the south coast to the capital, was reduced to a gentle hum, the absence of air traffic made for an eerie silence, everything felt right with the world to the naked eye, the mind was tricked into the same conclusion, before being startled back into the reality of what we are all facing.

Fortunately Quins are a family, and not just in the lip service cliched use of the term, they will be looking after each other via whats app, text, tweet and Instagram and every form of social communication known to mankind.

All the squad are keeping in shape with work from home exercise programmes designed by Charlotte Benson, welshcake super user Merrick Steward, and all the team’s strength and conditioning staff.

Several players and coaches, including co-head coach Karen Findlay, as Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, are working within the emergency services keeping the nation safe in these difficult times.

The squad has a number of key workers involved in social care and teaching, including Scotland legend Deborah McCormack, these extremely hard working and conscientious souls are in the front line helping to support those currently involved in keeping the country running safely.

Full back Chloe Rollie is back in the Scottish Borders eating porridge and tossing cabers, with the theme from Braveheart on her iphone as she keeps fit, no one in Premiership can catch her so I doubt coronavirus stands a chance.

Dr Zoe Saynor continues to lecture remotely in her role at the University of Portsmouth , whilst providing what physical activity, health and rehabilitation thematic group research she can from her office at home.

Victoria Petersson, fly half and Swedish international, is making a brilliant recovery from hamstring surgery, she was last seen hanging off a roof in Guildford, apparently all part of the rehab. I know Vic was distraught, when she received the injury, at how many matches she would miss, incredibly with a February full of storms, and now the corona virus, it is likely she will not miss a single match.

For Harlequins Ladies the season is now over. It seems trite in the circumstances to rue the loss of the glorious upcoming “Game Changer” and the pursuit of another Tyrrells Premiership Final, with the chance to right the wrongs of the last two finals, where Saracens have emerged victorious.

But all that will have to wait, and to be honest we will happily swallow our disappointment in exchange for the safety of every player, fan and member of staff, and also for the joyous reunion we will all have when this is over, there are an awful lot of overdue hugs to be given and received.

 Stay safe everyone, and whoever you are here is some great advice from Gilly Thomas, the performance psychologist at Quins, one of the unseen heroes of the club, she could be busier than usual in the days ahead.

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