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Re: Yarde off to Sale
Posted by: Cookadoodledoo
Date: 31/10/2017 09:27
Or someone could copy and paste it............

At some point today, the inevitable news communiqué will be publicised with the confirmation that Marland Yarde is to be released from Harlequins to join Sale Sharks. This has been rumbling since Yarde missed a training session ten days ago. When a club such as Harlequins, who have designs on a top-four finish and more, lose an England player mid-season like this, something has gone seriously wrong.

The training session that Yarde missed, on the eve of the Wasps game two weekends ago, was by no means the first. It seems that it was the third in the past three months. The first was before the club’s pre-season training camp in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

After missing the pre-Wasps training session, Yarde was then pulled from the European Champions Cup game at the Ricoh Arena. He was inked in, instead, to play in the A League game away to Gloucester the next day but he didn’t play in that, either. Indeed, Harlequins were shuffling their hand so much by that stage that they had an unmanned spot on their bench for the Gloucester match.

By that stage, however, Yarde’s time at Harlequins was fast reaching its end. John Kingston, the director of rugby, had already had a crisis meeting with Yarde’s agent. Before that meeting, Kingston knew that he was not going to renew Yarde’s contract at the end of the season; by the end of it, Yarde had been invited to find another club with immediate effect.

Yarde, it seems, was not always a great team man. After a while, a player who takes liberties starts to undermine the broader group. That is where it had got to.

That it reached the point where he was shown the door mid-season reflects appallingly on him. Remember, this is an England player; pre-Wasps, he had started all seven games of the season and had scored four tries. In other words, he is exactly the sort of player that a club might be tempted to bend their rules to accommodate.

So this is a brave decision from Harlequins — not simply because of the quality that they are letting go, but because of what this says about the club, or rather, what it will have people saying about the club. If a team lose one of their best players in such highly unusual circumstances, then immediately it raises the question: what are they getting wrong?

At some point, though, Kingston had to make a stand. Ever since he was promoted from head coach to the top job at Harlequins, 16 months ago, he has made it a priority to improve the culture at the club, in particular the discipline. That is why you see written large in their Guildford training ground the words: “Discipline: do the right things at the right time.” That is why one of Kingston’s favourite club slogans is “Harlequins before self”.

Kingston was so intent on his discipline review that he set it out in black and white. In some rugby environments, the squad discipline is player-led, with the players themselves setting the boundaries. It takes a pretty mature environment to work like that and Kingston wanted no grey areas. He wanted everything absolutely clear.

At Harlequins, therefore, there is now a four-level disciplinary system. The milder transgressions warrant only a coffee and a chat with Kingston. For the second level of transgression, the penalty is Harlequins community service: an appropriate level of
out-of-work hours given to the club. The third level involves selection: you transgress, you are dropped. The fourth is the severance of your contract.

There are a million and one cases, in any sport, of star players getting star-player treatment. Kingston could have opted to handle Yarde this way, though that would have been for short-term gain.

For the long-term culture of Harlequins, though, Kingston had to show that his boundaries would not be blurred, whoever you are. As he said: “I have to make decisions for the better good of Harlequins. If I think there is something stopping a strong environment, I will jump quickly to sort it out and make that decision.”

And so Yarde has been shown the door.

The twist, though, is this. Harlequins’ loss is Sale’s gain. And he won’t be the first player who has had disciplinary problems to have found their way to the AJ Bell Stadium. More to the point, they have found their way to Steve Diamond.

Danny Cipriani, who is now with Wasps, is the most celebrated of them all. James O’Connor, the Australian who has won 44 Test caps, has had his problems staying at any one club. He had a contract with the Australian Rugby Union suspended after a drunken incident at Perth airport, there was another suspension from Toulon last season after a cocaine bust in Paris.

Yet when others had their noses in the air, Diamond signed him up. Diamond is known as a no-nonsense hard-man motivator. His methods seemed to work with Cipriani; it is too early to call it a success with O’Connor. Yet he has an appetite for more with Yarde.

You could say that Diamond is loading himself with problems. For Yarde’s sake, you hope that Diamond’s methods rescue him.

Harlequins, though, had little option. They have lost a real talent, but when that talent becomes detrimental to the wider group, it doesn’t matter how good he is.

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