When 60,000 fans descended on Twickenham for last September’s famous Double Header, marking the start of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season, little did they know they’d be in for arguably the most exciting game of the whole 2012-13 campaign, a nail-biting try-fest where Quins came back from 27 points behind to eventually beat Wasps 42-40.
The occasion is now etched into both players’ and fans’ diaries, so excitement was rife as the fixture list for the new season was announced in the BT Tower, with confirmation that the two teams in question will battle it out at HQ once more.
London Wasps will take on Harlequins as the second fixture of the day (London Irish and Saracens will battle it out beforehand) and both games will be exclusively live on BT Sport.
Speaking at the fixture list launch, Conor O’Shea, Director of Rugby at Harlequins, can’t wait for his side to get back on the hallowed Twickenham turf:
“We’re not looking past game one yet, but yes, there’s a huge desire [to get back into a playoff position]. I’m sure from BT Sport’s point of view they’d love a repeat of last year’s Double Header fixture, which was an incredible start to the season. So we know how tough that will be.
O’Shea’s counterpart at London Wasps, Dai Young, was on the losing end of last year’s fixture but is relishing the opportunity to take on the 2012 Champions at Twickenham again:
“Yes it was obviously a great game to watch. The last ten minutes or so almost gave me a heart attack but that’s what you get when you play ‘Quins. Even when you think you’ve got them, you don’t. They’re determined to keep playing and you have to play for 80 minutes.”
Young has done an outstanding job at the club, avoiding relegation despite turbulent financial issues, and is looking forward to a fresh start:
“Yes, I think it’s fair to say we’ve been through two survival years both on and off the field. But we’ve got a really strong group of youngsters coming through. Although they’re young in age, they’re pretty experienced in terms of how many games they’ve played in the Premiership. I think it’s only the consistent teams that are in the top four year on year. We’ll focus on that.
“I think every team in the league has to worry about who’s behind them. Obviously we all want to get in the top six and be in Europe but there are no easy games. No-one’s going to beat everybody, so if you start talking about top four or top six, you can trip yourself up. I think the important thing is to get off to a good start, not put yourself under too much pressure and it’ll be very tight this year.
Delving further down the fixture list, both teams will host their own games at Twickenham. Quins will host Exeter Chiefs at the ‘Big Game’ on 28th December. O’Shea said:
“Yes, Big Game Six! It’s been sold out for the last couple of years and it’s become one of those dates that people in the calendar. Traditionally it’s football at that time of year but it’s great to be able to take that on. We lost twice to Exeter last year and that’s the nature of the league. It’ll be a massive game on that day but there’s ten games before that plus Europe and the LV= Cup, so we won’t be looking too far ahead.”
… and Wasps resurrect their St George’s Day game on 19th April, against Gloucester. Young commented:
“It’s important we move forward both on and off the field.”