Travelling Quins fans express doubts over Abu Dhabi experiment
Quins fans voted with their feet over Sunday's historic first competitive domestic rugby fixture to be played in Abu Dhabi, according to those who made the trip.
Director of rugby Conor O'Shea's men beat 'hosts' London Wasps 38-13 in front of more than 4,000 largely ex-pat rugby fans at the Emirates Palace.
Only a handful of Harlequins supporters headed out specifically for the game as opposed to the 800+ that travelled to Italy for the European Challenge Cup clash with I Cavalieri Estra a fortnight earlier.
The fixture – the brainchild of Ham-based England legend Lawrence Dallaglio – was only announced in January.
And Sheen's Chris Munton - a stalwart supporter of the club who was in the UAE for the match - reckons fans were dealt a harsh blow.
“I was always going to come. It was a no brainer for me, but then again I am fruit cake,” he said.
“I realise it all had to be done quickly, but had it been announced earlier in the season I think more would have come.
“Which ever way you came it was going to be expensive.
“I'm pretty recognisable and I've not seen any regular fans out here. That speaks volumes and it seems people voted with their feet.
“I guess I would do it again, but I wouldn't take that as a recommendation to the average supporter."
Munton, 70, left the UK on a 9am flight to Abu Dhabi from Heathrow on Saturday, making his return at the same time on Monday having spent less than 48 hours in the Middle East.
It wasn't just Quins fans left frustrated with the change of schedule, as 64-year-old Jane Thornton put it 'many Wasps supporters were incandescent with rage' at the move.
Carshalton 66-year-old Gary Collier - who made the trip via Dubai - thought the home of the Dubai Sevens may have made more sense as a destination.
And Wasps winger Tom Varndell agreed the venue – and his side's performance – hadn't helped the spectacle or atmosphere.
“There were a lot of frustrated fans who wanted this game to be at Adams Park and couldn't make it here,” he said.
“It was a big occasion for the club to come out here and get the victory and we have let ourselves down again.”
While O'Shea seemed reluctant to back the idea of Quins repeating the experiment.
"I'll leave that to the business people. I just focus on the rugby," he added.
"What we love doing is coming out here and coaching with the Abu Dhabi Harlequins. We were out here with them earlier in the year coaching kids in schools and the community - both ex-pats and Emirati.
"That is what you actually enjoy, when you see kids enjoying the game you love. A bit more of that would be good, but the rest I'll leave to the business people."
*The Surrey Comet and Richmond & Twickenham Times is bringing coverage of Quins in Abu Dhabi in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.
For details on all trips to Abu Dhabi call 0207 201 6400, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit visitabudhabi.ae.