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Monye delights in 'special' triumph

England winger Ugo Monye believes Harlequins' first Aviva Premiership title triumph has been made even more special because it was achieved against Leicester.

The league's top two teams produced a season finale that matched the glorious Twickenham weather on Saturday, with Quins winning 30-23 to take the silverware back across the A316 to their Stoop headquarters as the sixth different Premiership champions after Newcastle, Wasps, Leicester, Sale and Saracens.

"I wanted to play Leicester in the final," Quins star Monye said. "They are the ultimate champions - they've won Heineken Cups and Premiership titles - and if you want to announce yourself on the English stage then you need to beat the likes of Leicester."

He added: "They are a fantastic side. The resilience they showed to come back when they were 17 points down was superb. I have so much respect for (Leicester rugby director) Richard Cockerill. To be champions is one thing, but to do it against Leicester makes it even more special."

Three years after the tawdry business of Bloodgate left an indelible stain on Quins, they are now making headlines for all the right reasons. And that includes winger Tom Williams, who bit on the fake blood capsule following orders relayed by then rugby director Dean Richards in a Heineken Cup quarter-final tie against Leinster.

Williams scored Quins' opening try in the final, while fly-half Nick Evans added 20 points from the boot and skipper Chris Robshaw sealed an immense season for club and country with a clinching touchdown.

"This is another chapter in this new era of rugby at Harlequins," Monye added. "We have got a lot of experience. We've beaten Toulouse away, we beat Munster away last season, Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final and Leicester away this year.

"The tight-five were immense again. The scrum and lineout have been incredible this season. There is a really good balance to our side."

Monye also paid a glowing tribute to Quins rugby director Conor O'Shea - tipped by many as Ireland's next coach after Declan Kidney - who has helped transform the club from occasional winners into England's most consistent team over a marathon nine-month season.

"The biggest change at Harlequins has been the culture that Conor has influenced," he said. "He knows how to get the very best out of young talent. He has developed and matured us, and massive credit goes to him."


From Belfast Telegraph