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Rugby League?s rebirth in London is off to an outstanding start with fans showing unparalleled interest in the new club. Since the ESL Grand Final the former London Broncos RLFC has been busy promoting their new name and home ground: Twickenham Stoop. The club entered into an agreement with the Harlequins Rugby Union club earlier in the season to participate in a joint venture where both clubs are separate entities that share resources, and thus minimise costs. The main advantage for the Broncos is they finally gain a home ground and training facilities that can be used rent free, while the Harlequins RU see the agreement as an opportunity to expand their brand, increase their supporter base, and improve sponsorship revenues.
Early indications are that the Harlequins RL club are in for their most successful season off the field yet. With over four months before the first round of the season, the Quins RL have already experienced a 23% rise in season ticket sales. What is undoubtedly a boost for the club is that these sales have come from a healthy mix of long standing Broncos supporters, current Harlequins RU ticket holders (taking advantage of a 50% discount offer) and locals of the Twickenham area.
With such positive beginnings off the field, much is expected for season 2006. The Broncos finished their last season full of promise, fighting their way into the play-off series only to be knocked out by eventual champions Bradford. They have also continued to add quality to their playing ranks, recently signing Manly hooker Chad Randall.
But for Quins RL fans what happens off the field could be as important as the results on the field. After 23 years of moving from one ground to another there is a sense of stability in the club that will filter down to almost every level. Fans will enjoy attending matches at what is considered to be one of the most state of the art rugby facilities in London. The Lexus Stand in particular was opened only this year and provides London Rugby League fans with facilities previously unimaginable at Griffin Park. These facilities include 3,850 covered seats, better handicapped facilities and what has been deemed the longest stadium members bar in Europe.
The RFL have watched developments in the London closely, and after having saved the Broncos from bankruptcy only this year, they will be hoping the Quins alliance will ensure professional Rugby League will thrive in the capital for years to come.