Mixed gender teams from all across South West London entered the eight week competition bringing together local yuppies, teachers, students, past players, new players, Aussies, Kiwis, Welshies, Jam-eaters, men, women, brunettes, blondes, baldies, and gingers and Harlequins Rugby League's very own Community Team.
The Harlequins office team had representative from the accounts department, commercial and marketing, community team and even coaching staff lacing up the boots for the Wednesday evening fixtures. Harlequins RL development manager, Ebony Blake, nominated herself coach, captain, stand-off, and goal kicker, leading the squad to an unbeaten season which culminated in last week's scintillating Grand Final.
The partnership between Harlequins RL and St Mary's university college was temporarily put on pause as these two giants squared off in the Touch Rugby League finale. St Mary's Rugby League team fancied their chances in the build up to the showpiece event but Harlequins were in no mood to be turned over.
Harlequins RL assistant coaches Laitham Taiwhi and Rob Powell brought a fresh level of professionalism and commitment to the team by being the first players to arrive on the day, however, they looked noticeably devastated to learn that the pitch side beers weren't until after the game. Powell was threatening all day - when he wasn't threatening the opponent's try line, he was threatening their players. The guile of Powell was matched in equal measure by the enthusiasm of Jared Bell. Mr Bell (as he's known to his class) is a primary school teacher at St Michael's and St Martin's, and was lucky to be picked after head butting teammate Ebony Blake in the semi final.
The depleted St Mary's outfit were first out of the blocks scoring an intercept try through James Anthony. This seemed to spark Harlequins RL in to life, who scored eight unanswered tries before the half time break.
For Harlequins sales executive Emily Wise the interval couldn't have come at a better time. The 'minimum two girls on the field rule' meant no substitutions for the two Harlequins ladies. Drawing from his many years of experience… in accounting, Andrew White fiddled the numbers and allowed St Mary's to play with five blokes, one girl in the second half… before substituting himself off.
The new line-up did nothing to stop the Harlequins tries from pouring in. Community coaches Jimmy Giblin and Aran Queen had divided loyalties also being the St Mary's Rugby League team head coach and assistant in the BUSA student leagues. The coaching team proved that they have not taught the students quite everything they knew, as they linked up twice in the second half to score. Wise turned creator late in the second half with some unorthodox ball skills near the line. It was left to Jared to round things off with a length of the field effort right on the fulltime whistle securing the walkabout bar tab.
Notable absentees included community coach Chris Baxter who was still recovering from his appearance in the semi final. Fellow community coach Andy Flint was confined to the injured list after a suspected torn tuba grip and Joe Price swapped Touch Rugby for wet tee shirt competitions in Cancun Mexico… he came third. Malcolm Cranmer, Harlequins RL media manager whose entire Rugby League playing career reached five touch games, was also otherwise engaged. None of the usual RFL contingent were present on the big day. James Massara, who deemed the GF not important enough to fly back from Lithuania for. Dan Steel, Robbie Marr and guest star Graham Davies were left watching the result on teletext, being tied up with so called 'commitments'. Lucy Duncombe showed a distinct lack of dedication to the cause, sitting out the Finale with a mere broken arm. Former Newcastle Knights hooker Billy Pedan turned his focus back to the training ground to work on a few dummy half pointers given to him by Jared two weeks earlier.
The Mighty Pie Eaters won third place in the competition. The team made up of local teachers and friends deservedly took the bronze award in high spirits. All teams have a two week rest before a brand new season kicks off. This competition is open to all entrants again and Harlequins Rugby League invite anyone who's interested to check out the In2Touch website and join the Summer league.