"Concerning" - Financially-troubled Harlequins confirm 12 summer departures - Ruck

“Concerning” – Financially-troubled Harlequins confirm 12 summer departures

Harlequins Rugby Football Club, commonly known as Quins, have come under scrutiny due to their high borrowing of £48 million in the 2021 financial year.

According to private equity director Mike Ryan, this is a concerning development for the club as their structure is an unsustainable model and has never made a profit.

“At the moment, this is heading for disaster. The overall competition is still losing money. It is professional on the field and semi-professional at best off the field. That is the biggest problem that rugby is facing globally, in my view,” Ryan told the Telegraph.

Despite Quins’ financial issues, a number of other clubs, particularly Exeter and Gloucester, continue to perform well financially. Quins are now cutting back on spending, with as many as 12 players leaving this summer.

Even their star player, Marcus Smith, has admitted that he may need to leave the club in the near future. Smith, who is reckoned to be on around £400,000 a year at Quins plus £250,000 from England appearances, stated that he wants to experience different cultures and leagues when the time is right.

“Two clubs [Wasps and Worcester] have folded which is never a good sign for the game in the Premiership. If you look across to the Top 14, you see the dominance they have in Europe – that’s mainly down to the salary cap, which is a huge topic.

“If they’ve got more resources and finances to build their squads they’re probably going to be in a better position to win those tournaments. I’ve never personally been further than the round of 16.

“When I was younger, I drew in my notebook that I want to win the Heineken [Champions] Cup, and to do that here in England is extremely tough, and for me, that’s a big draw,” said Smith.

Meanwhile, Quins have only signed four players, with England lock Joe Launchbury being the standout name. The club appears to be in a difficult position, and their financial struggles could have wider implications for the sport.


#1. Aaron Morris (retiring)

The 28-year-old will be retiring at the end of the season, following a series of serious injuries which have seen him side-lined for much of the last two seasons.

Commenting on his departure, Morris said: “This has been a very difficult decision and made with a heavy heart. The last two seasons have been incredibly challenging as I have battled with multiple serious injuries, bringing both physical and emotional pain.

Aaron Morris of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Harlequins at Welford Road, Leicester on Sunday 4th October 2020 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK/Gallagher

“It is time for me to find the joy that rugby once gave me in something else. Whilst my career is shorter than I would have liked, I retire proudly with Premiership winners medal and as a Junior World Champion. I want to thank the Club, my teammates, the supporters and my family for all their support. I hope I have made them proud”.

Harlequins Head Coach Tabai Matson said: “We will be sorry to see Aaron go. He has been desperately unlucky with injuries and while his career has been shorter than we all would have liked, he can feel very proud of his achievements in the Quarters.

“We are always sorry to see good men leave our club and Aaron’s departure will leave a massive hole. We wish him all the best for the future knowing with his capabilities he will transition successfully and will probably be an exemplar for other players”.


#2. Tommaso Allan (Perpignan)

After joining the South West London club at the start of the 2021/22 campaign, Allan will return to Perpignan for a second stint at the club.

In a statement, the club said: “Harlequins wish Allan the best in the next step in his rugby career and looks forward to finishing the current campaign with the Italian international in the Famous Quarters.”