Harlequins v Gloucester Rugby Premiership Preview

Sanzaar want more Rugby Championship matches in England

Harlequins have named a team with 12 changes for this weekend’s Aviva Premiership Big Game 8 at Twickenham Stadium against Gloucester Rugby.

Returning to the Premiership following back to back victories over Calvisano in the European Rugby Challenge Cup have made sweeping changes.

Mike Brown, George Lowe, Tim Visser, Nick Evans and captain Danny Care return to the backline as Jamie Roberts makes his Premiership debut.

In the forwards, Joe Marler, Will Collier, James Horwill, Chris Robshaw and Nick Easter are named, with Dave Ward starting at hooker.

Care, Brown and Easter have played in every Big Game to date.

This is the eighth “Big Game” at Twickenham where Harlequins previous record is an even won three, drawn one, lost three.

Harlequins have lost just one of their last eight fixtures in all competitions: 25-26 at Exeter in round 5 of Aviva Premiership Rugby. Quins only defeat at home in any tournament since

February was 26-27 to Bath in Premiership Rugby in May. Harlequins loss to Northampton in last season’s “Big Game” ended a six game winning run in all tournaments at Twickenham Stadium.

Gloucester have lost just one of their last six encounters in all competitions: 3-15 at Northampton in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 27th November. The Cherry& Whites have lost on their last five visits to Twickenham Stadium since beating Northampton there in the final of the Powergen Cup in April 2003.

Harlequins recorded a Premiership Rugby double over Gloucester last season something that they had not achieved since 1998/99.

The two sides have met twice before at Twickenham Stadium in major competitions, with Gloucester winning 12-6 in the semi-final of the John Player Cup in April 1978 and a 9-all draw in a Courage League Division 1 encounter in November 1987.

Greig Laidlaw has been named to captain Gloucester Rugby as they resume their Aviva Premiership campaign against Harlequins in the Big Game 8 at Twickenham Stadium.

Laidlaw and Billy Twelvetrees have both captained the side this season, but the Scottish scrum-half will wear the arm band for the Quins game.

It’s a strong line-up which features 12 internationals in the starting XV. Laidlaw will partner James Hook at half back and Twelvetrees will line up alongside Bill Meakes in the midfield. The back three will feature Rob Cook, Jonny May and Charlie Sharples.

The front row will consist once again of Paddy McAllister, Richard Hibbard and John Afoa, while Jeremy Thrush and Mariano Galarza team up for the first time in the second row. The back row comprises Sione Kalamafoni, Matt Kvesic and Ben Morgan.

It’s the first time that Gloucester will have participated in one of Harlequins’ ‘Big Games’ at Twickenham, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that everyone is looking forward to the challenge and the occasion.

“There’s a huge amount of excitement amongst the players and staff about going to Twickenham to play. We’ve talked about it all week, these are the games that the big players want to play in, not just play in but also perform, and they want to put in a big performance.

“When you look at our squad, at the depth of experience – World Cup Finals, international matches, All Blacks, British Lions – they won’t be intimidated at all. They understand the excitement and the pressure that comes with playing in these games.

“But that’s why they come to a club like Gloucester, they want to be involved in these sorts of games, like the ones we played in last year and hopefully there will be more to come.”

Humphreys is also well aware of the challenge posed by Harlequins, led by his good friend Conor O’Shea.

“They’ve been very successful over the last number of years and have been one of the form teams in the competition this year. They’re certainly going into this week’s game as strong favourites.

“But that’s the challenge for us. They’re a team we want to compete against and we believe, with the squad and the players we have, we can do so. But we have to go up to Twickenham and back up that belief with a really big performance.”

Match : Harlequins v Gloucester Rugby
Date : Sunday 27 December
Kick Off : 4.30pm
Venue : Twickenham Stadium,
Match Officials
Referee : Wayne Barnes (159th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Graham Hughes.



15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c) , 8 Nick Easter, 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 James Horwill, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler

Replacements : 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm

Gloucester Rugby:

15 Rob Cook; 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May; 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw (capt); 1 Paddy McAllister, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 John Afoa; 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 Mariano Galarza; 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Ben Morgan

Replacements:16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Henry Trinder

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