Ollie Phillips: Quins’ attacking mentality is good for rugby
Twickenham Stadium will host its second Harlequins home fixture of the season tomorrow and a win for Tabai Matson’s side would guarantee them a spot in the top four.
I don’t see a situation where Quins don’t make it but, until it’s certain, there’s work to do.
They’ll entertain Gloucester in front of around 50,000 fans and I hope they keep to their attacking mentality.
Some say a criticism of the club – with the likes of Marcus Smith and Danny Care running the show – is their lack of big-game decision making. When do you play for the points and when do you chase tries?
But I love what it’s resulted in. If attack, attack, attack isn’t the desirable coaching method in rugby then the sport will suffer.
We want to see teams running from everywhere, enjoying their rugby and chasing tries.
I think that’s what could happen tomorrow. Gloucester will come to play because they need to get four tries and a win, but Quins will just play them off the park.
It’s one thing to laud the fresh faces creating a buzz at the Stoop, like Cadan Murley and Louis Lynagh, but stalwarts Care and Joe Marler have been the rocks keeping Quins grounded. In the long term they’ll be the players Quins miss the most but while they’re here the fans and club need to treasure them – they’ve got such resilience and longevity.
It’s been a good season for Quins overall and, while the loss to Northampton Saints in the last Premiership game would have been disappointing, it’s probably given them the reality check they needed.
Quins’ top four hopes
If they are to finish third or fourth again, like they did last year, away games against Leicester Tigers and Saracens offer vastly different prospects to the matches they had with Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs 12 months ago.
Saracens are back and rolling well and, despite a loss in Toulon last week, they’re looking strong. Leicester have run away with the league and their fortress of Welford Road is one of the few intimidating atmospheres in the Premiership.
I think Quins are handling the champions tag well given how difficult it is to maintain their standards when their game plan is one of openness.
That said, they went on a brilliant run after the departure of former head coach Paul Gustard last January and haven’t really been able to pick up similar momentum since. They do, however, have enough to weather any storm; they’re the hottest ticket.
Any game at HQ is a big one and there is no reason why Gloucester, under George Skivington, cannot go there and win, but the odds are stacked against them.
Quins tend to get the score when they need a score, and I am not so sure the same applies to Gloucester.
The hosts have scored just four more tries (85-81) than Gloucester but I can’t see past a comfortable home win for the London side.
Warriors win battle
It’s worth congratulating Worcester on their first ever top flight trophy after their 25-25 countback win against London Irish.
Though it is great to see Steve Diamond getting off to a good start at the Warriors, I would have loved the drama of a penalty shootout like the one we saw in Ireland a couple of weeks ago.
This will offer Worcester fans hope because, no matter how many people diminish the standard of the cup, winning a trophy is better than winning nothing.
£ Former England Sevens captain Ollie Phillips is the founder of Optimist Performance, experts in leadership development and behavioural change. Follow Ollie on Twitter and on LinkedIn.