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Here we go again

Derek Williams opens for new season business

My greetings to National Rust readers as I resume my occasional blogs on the progress of Harlequins FC with the announcement that this season I am dropping the ‘Quins-watch’ tag with which I headed my efforts last year.

For present purposes I have arbitrarily taken tonight’s Premiership 7s Group C min-tournament at Franklin’s Gardens – in which Quins take on Northampton Saints, Wasps and Saracens – as the start of the 2014-2015 season. Given that I regard tourneys in the 7s version of rugby as a complete lottery and Quins are fielding a mixed squad of first team, academy and guest players, I make no prediction here as to whether we shall progress to the Final taking place at the Stoop next Friday (8th August).

Our XV-a-side pre-season games this year are against FC Grenoble (9th August), Pau (16th August) and Glasgow Warriors (23rd August) – I mention this in passing because sadly, for domestic reasons, I shall not be able to get to any of them in order to run an early eye over this term’s ‘runners and riders’ and report back to my readers here.

As it happens, nor will I be at our clash with London Irish at Twickenham Stadium on 9th September, part of the annual ‘London Double Header’ opening to the Premiership season. I am technically available to go but, because of a personal vow taken after the 2008 London Double Header never to attend Twickenham Stadium again because of its abysmal match-day and poor value-for-money experience, my choice is to watch the match on television.

Elsewhere, Quins’ preparations for this season seem to have continued in the cack-handed ‘any old how will do’ traditions of yore.

ShirtAs ever, for those to whom such things matter, a new season means a new replica shirt to buy.

I was slightly worried that I might have to acquire the 2014/2015 model at first, after a nephew who had spotted one pronounced it terrific but – now I’ve seen it for myself – thankfully I shall not have to bother. It’s much same as last season’s but with a tweak or two and certainly not worth parting with £60 for.

Generally-speaking, Premiership rugby union clubs lag leap years behind their soccer counterparts as regards the quality of their marketing. In Quins’ case, during the off-season we have launched a new website which, to my eyes, is different but not necessarily superior to its predecessor.

Things that particularly irritate this observer about club communications are inaccuracies and/or lack of keeping up to date.

For example, during the close season Quins have signed a new centre-wing, Fijian international Aseli Tikoirotuma. When you go to the players’ profiles section of the new website, the editors have included due statistics under his name but – it seems – have so far failed to find a photograph of him to display and therefore left that space blank.

Some might describe this as ‘a little local difficulty’ – I just call it unprofessional.

Separately, although officially (at the club’s insistence) I haven’t, de facto I have renewed my two season tickets for this season.

This strange state of affairs came to pass because in 2013, after twelve consecutive years of buying myself two season tickets, the club announced that we were all no longer season ticket holders but ‘members’. Accordingly I was not longer permitted to buy two season tickets – it was explained to me each individual seat ‘bought’ for a season had to be allocated to a different member.

The solution? Well, obviously, I registered my daughter as one ‘member’ and myself as another.

StoopAs a result, last season I still paid for the same two seats and was sent two ‘membership cards’, one for myself and one for my daughter (which, swiped at the turnstile, allow non-ticket access to the ground). At each home match I attended therefore, on a whim as we approached the ground, I had to choose whether to hand my guest my daughter’s membership card or mine … and, whichever it was, I swiped through on the other.

Ah well, I suppose at least this keeps everyone happy. I still get to go to all Quins home games, taking with me a guest of my choice, whilst the club can pretend its number of members is statistically greater than it really is.

However, I do find it odd not to say illogical that in years to come, according to the club’s database, my daughter currently attends at least 25 games at the Stoop every season, which is 25 more than she actually does.

You’d have thought that someone in the club somewhere would not only recognise the absurdity but want to change it in order to reflect the actuality.

Surely any organisation worth its salt would want to base its forward management decisions on the facts – irrespective of what they are – rather than on data which (they must have known before they even began collecting it) is inevitably going to be false?

Some might regard the current situation as stupid, bordering on incompetent. No doubt at Quins it’s called marketing.



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About Derek Williams

A recently-retired actuary, the long-suffering Derek has been a Quins fan for the best part of three decades. More Posts