Following Harlequins’ announcement that John Kingston would be ending his association with the club after seventeen years at the club, who will take over at the helm at the Stoop?
During his time at Quins, Kingston has won the Aviva Premiership, two European Challenge Cups and the LV=Cup.
In 2016, Kingston was promoted from Head Coach to Director of Rugby following Conor O’Shea’s departure.
Kingston led Quins to their highest finish in three years in the 2016/17 season and participated in the Champions Cup for the first time since the 2014/15 season.
The announcement that Kingston would be leaving his post has come nearly three months after all of Harlequins’ coaching staff signed contract extensions that would see them at the club for several more seasons.
Now the media whirlwind about who will take the hot-seat at Harlequins has begun…
A name who is available is Stuart Lancaster. The former England Head Coach would be linking up with Graham Rowntree who was on Lancaster’s England coaching staff. Also, Nick Easter would also be working alongside him after being part of Lancaster’s 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
Lancaster would be coming to Quins with a somewhat repaired reputation following his time at Leinster and would also have the same core values that he’s always had. Lancaster likes to promote young talent, a trait that is shared by Harlequins.
However, a stumbling block for Harlequins would be that Lancaster has recently signed a new contract extension with Leinster so in order to be released, Quins would have to pay big to get their man.
Nick Kennedy would also be an option for Harlequins. The former London Irish Director of Rugby left his post at the Exiles in a confusing manner and since has been doing punditry work.
Kennedy was behind London Irish’s victory over Harlequins on the opening day of the season and as a former Harlequins player, he may not be opposed to working at the Stoop.
Jim Mallinder is another Director of Rugby that left his former role this season. Mallinder was involved at Northampton Saints for ten years and was axed following a shaky start to the season.
Mallinder would definitely be breathing new life into Quins. Having heard the same voices for some years now, any change would be appreciated. If given the role, it would be intriguing to see whether Mallinder would repeat what he did whilst at Northampton and raid his former club for players.
Prior to the 2008/09 season, Mallinder signed four of Sales’ star men, including the likes of Ben Foden, Christian Day and Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe.
However, The Mail have suggested that the London club will appoint a coach from the southern hemisphere. They have reported that it could be the All Blacks who are drafting the list of successors for John Kingston.
Current Crusaders’ Head Coach Scott Robertson could be in the sights if this is true. It is entirely plausible that the All Black’s could be eyeing up Robertson as a potential successor to Steve Hansen, so gaining experience is a must in the northern hemisphere.
Elsewhere in New Zealand, there is only one Head Coach who hasn’t been in their post since the start of this Super Rugby season, or already leaving. That Head Coach being the Auckland Blues’ Tana Umaga.
Having only retired in 2011, former All Black Umaga already has experience coaching in the northern hemisphere. Coaching Toulon in 2008/09, Umaga was released by the French powerhouse in the January of 2009, but at the Blues, he has nurtured the talent of Rieko Ioane as well as securing Sonny Bill Williams’ return to Super Rugby.