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Welcome and goodbye: Harlequins sack Gustard over poor run

Harlequins' No 10 prodigy Marcus Smith could soon be on his way out of the club

 

Rugby team Harlequins, have terminated the contract of director of rugby Paul Gustard with immediate effect.

Pressure has been mounting on the 44-year-old after winning just two out of eight games this season.

The decision was made on Wednesday morning and staff were subsequently made aware at lunchtime, Sportsmail can reveal.

There has been growing unrest at The Stoop, where there has been speculation about a player exodus this summer.

A number of senior players have been considering their future at the club after growing frustrated with the club culture.

Leading England internationals are considering moves elsewhere, while No 10 prodigy Marcus Smith is understood to have been offered to rivals.

Frustrations have been growing on the recruitment front, with lock Elliot Stooke among the players to turn down approaches.

Harlequins made 32 personnel changes after the 2018-19 season, as Gustard looked to freshen up his squad, and after only winning one of their first four games, Quins would remain unbeaten for the rest of the calendar year. However, a 48-10 defeat to Sale, their most comprehensive league defeat since defeat by the same margin against Exeter nearly four years earlier, and an early exit from Europe spelt a disappointing start to the season.

Paul Gustard in and out in a jiffy

Quins would eventually finish 3rd in their Champions’ Cup pool with home and away victories over Bath, but as they league form continued to fluctuate, their main contention for silverware would come in the Premiership Cup. Having earned a place in the semi-finals at the start of the season, whilst the World Cup took place, they hammered a young Exeter Chiefs side 49-22 away from home to reach the final. This was set for the 15th March 2020, before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the resumption of the season, Quins recorded solid form to finish comfortably in sixth and earn qualification for the Champions Cup. Nonetheless Gustard’s hopes of a first trophy were dashed as the London club were beaten 27-19 against Sale in the Premiership Cup Final despite leading for most of the game.

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