Last weekend – as regular readers will need no reminding – in an extraordinary game against at the Stoop in which they enjoyed 70% possession of the ball but contrived to lose 3-23, the Harlequins had also surrendered the control of their Rugby Champions Cup pool group that they had held all season.
As a direct result, Quins’ retained but a mathematical chance of progressing to the ‘last eight’ knockout stage as one of the ‘best three who did not win their pool’. This required them to notch a 5-point (bonus point for 4 tries) victory away against the French Top 14 team Castres yesterday and then keep their fingers crossed that other results also went their way.
The crucial matches in Pool 2 – Castres v Quins and Wasps v Leinster – both kicked off shortly after 1.00pm.
I watched from the warmth and comfort of my sofa as Quins did their level best, scoring seven tries in beating Castres 19-47 on a heavy pitch in icy cold winds and then later driving rain and snow, whilst keeping a wary eye on progress in the other match.
At half-time everything was at it might be: Leinster were ahead 20-6. Then in the second stanza Wasps came back to draw 20-20, thereby consigning Quins to finish third in the pool … and out.
Now it is Wasps are the ones having a nail-biting 24 hours, waiting to see if other results go their way.
You need a large slice of luck to win anything in life and, after their horrendous performance against Wasps eight days ago, frankly the odds were stacked against Quins.
They needed a blue whale-sized slice of luck to stay in the Rugby Champions Cup and now they have nobody to blame but themselves. The fact they did everything possible in their control yesterday – and then things elsewhere went against them – was just ‘one of those things’.
And bloody annoying.