Quite a week for Chris Robshaw.
The England rugby captain who began his sports career on the playing fields of Croydon was named Player of the Year in midweek.
Yesterday, through sheer force of personality, Robshaw lifted his Harlequins team to come back in the dying moments to beat Northampton in the Premiership play-off, securing a place in the Twickenham final in a fortnight.
Quins topped the table through the regular season, winning 10 league games on the bounce from September with an exciting brand of flowing, running rugby. But that all counted for nothing in yesterday’s sudden death game. Hardly a rugby classic, both sides made nervy errors as they exchanged penalties. Then, into the last 10 minutes, Northampton made a try-scoring breakthrough.
Eight points down with eight minutes to play, Robshaw rallied his troops, the former Warlingham youth player marching around his team mates, his right fist punching into his left hand and he called for the last big effort to get the two scores required.
They chipped away and edged three points closer with Nick Evans’ sixth penalty of the game and then, with 76 minutes on the clock, Robshaw instructed his fly-half to kick the next penalty to touch for a line-out. And from the edge of the Northampton 22, the Harlequins pack launched a ferocious drive with Joe Marler touching down in a forest of legs.
Quins had not only driven Saints over their own line but also infield, leaving the victory conversion a formality for Evans. 25-23, and Harlequins first Premiership final place was booked for May 26.
Robshaw will lead England on a tough tour to South Africa in the summer, his growing stature as a leader on the pitch enhanced no end by success at club level.
- Quins clinch Premiership final place (thisislondon.co.uk)
- Harlequins 25-23 Northampton | Premiership play-offs semi-final report (guardian.co.uk)
- England captain Robshaw returns to his grassroots (insidecroydon.com)
- Warlingham old boy Hart forced by injury to retire from Wasps (insidecroydon.com)