Broncos reborn in effort to tap into London support

Super League club to drop Quins association in attempt to win hearts and minds in the capital

It is a big week for rugby league in London, but one which the brand of Harlequins RL will not survive. The eyes of the world game tomorrow will be on the International Player of the Year awards – held in the capital for the first time – and even more so on Saturday, for the Four Nations double-header at Wembley.

But before all that, London's Super League club will today re-launch itself in a form which it hopes will finally win hearts and minds in the city. "We went through a consultation process and one thing that came through strongly was that we should change our name," said the club's chief executive, Gus Mackay. "The feeling was that we wanted the word 'London' in it."

Mackay is holding back confirmation of the rest of the name until today, but it is thought to be the Broncos title that they carried from 1994 to 2006. The Quins title was the result of a partnership between the two clubs that probably saved top-flight rugby league in London. It has, however, had major draw-backs.

Not only has playing as Harlequins submerged their identity, it has, Mackay believes, discouraged potential rugby league spectators from other union clubs. "There's an untapped market there among people who might watch rugby league, but won't watch Harlequins. We firmly believe that there's a market for rugby league in London. There's going to be a large proportion of the people at the Four Nations, for instance, who are from London and the South-east."

Contrary to some suggestions, the club has no immediate plans to leave The Stoop, although the intention is to take a couple of games "on the road" elsewhere in the South-east. "I'm a great believer in taking the game to the public," said Mackay, who was previously with Surrey County Cricket Club. "If we get 5-6,000, it's more than we've been getting here."

This will be the final year of their deal with Quins, however, and a move after that, possibly to a part of London where professional rugby union is not as strong, cannot be ruled out. The long-term aspiration is for rugby league to have its own home in London, but the emphasis there might well be on the "long term".

More immediately, a new playing strip will be unveiled today, which will be neither a Harlequin nor an old London Broncos design. The appeal of the operation, though, will inevitably depend on what the team, whatever it is called and whatever it wears, does on the field. After a most encouraging start last season, the rest of the campaign was little short of a disaster. This year, thanks to the deep pockets of the chairman, David Hughes, the club will spend up to its full salary cap for the first time, with players of international calibre like Craig Gower and Michael Robertson already signed-up.

What the various custodians of rugby league in London over the last 30 years have agreed upon, however, is that the future lies in cultivating the athletic talent of the capital. Over the last few years, they have brought through players like Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Tony Clubb, both Londoners who have gone on to play for England. There are also more amateur clubs, more league-playing schools and more junior players in London than there have ever been, not to mention the semi-professional London Skolars.

Today's announcements might just plant a banner in the ground around which they can all rally.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own