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Harlequins and Irish team up for cup match

Tough to take: Harlequins lost to Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup

Harlequins have teamed up with London Irish, their Aviva Premiership rivals, to take on the Bermuda Barbarians in next month’s Atlantic Cup at the National Stadium.

The Harlequins Invitational XV are expected to include several top names, including Adam Jones, the Wales prop, while the Barbarians will once again be coached by Lee Mears, the former Bath and England hooker.

Harlequins will arrive in Bermuda licking their wounds after their heartbreaking 26-19 defeat to Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup final in Lyon at the weekend.

The Londoners had been trying to force extra-time before a blunder by Ben Botica who inexplicably kicked the ball away in injury time as his team searched for a try and conversion.

It was Connor O’Shea’s final game as the club’s director of rugby.

Gareth Noakes, the event organiser and chairman of Youth Rugby in Bermuda, said the players will visit local schools as well as holding coaching workshops and taking part in fundraising activities for the Beyond Rugby charity and the Bermuda Rugby Youth programme.

Beyond Rugby Bermuda is a partnership between Family Centre and the Bermuda Rugby Football Union working with “at risk” schoolchildren.

“Bringing Harlequins and London Irish Premiership players, many of whom have played at the highest level of the sport for many years, is not only exciting for Bermuda but it is hoped the workshops and seminars will inspire our youth to embrace the core values rugby offers,” Noakes said.

Patrick Calow, the BRFU youth development officer and coordinator of the Beyond Rugby programme, expressed his delight about having such high-profile players sharing their knowledge with the island’s young players.

“Bermuda’s ability to attract teams of this calibre is a huge motivation to the kids in our programme and those in schools who may be experiencing rugby for the first time,” Calow said.

David Ellis, the Harlequins chief executive officer, said the Beyond Rugby Bermuda and Bermuda Rugby Youth programmes were very much aligned with their core values.

Harlequins visited the island for the first time last summer when they defeated the Bermuda Barbarians 68-43 at the North Field.

Their team arrives on Thursday, June 2, with the team facing the Barbarians on June 4, and the players also taking part in a charity golf event at Tucker’s Point Golf Club on Tuesday, June 7.

The match will kick off at 7pm. Entrance is $20 on the door or $15 in advance at ptix.com.

London Irish suffered relegation this season after finishing bottom of the table. Harlequins came seventh.