- "Harlequins RL" redricts here. For the rugby union club, see: Harlequins FC
|London Broncos 2012 Logo|
|Founded||1980 (as Fulham R.L.F.C.)|
|Ground(s)||The Stoop (2005 - present)|
|Competition||Super League 2005|
|Full name||Harlequins Rugby League|
|World Club Championships||0|
|Regal Trophy||0 (0)|
|Lancashire Cups||0 (0)|
London Broncos are a professional rugby league football club based in London, England. The club has competed in the Super League competition since its introduction in 1996. Coached by Tony Rea and captained by Craig Gower, the Broncos' home ground is Twickenham Stoop Stadium.
The club was originally formed as Fulham in 1980, entering the Rugby Football League Championship's second division for the 1980–81 Rugby Football League season. Over the years the club has changed names a number of times and has also been known as London Crusaders (1991-1994), London Broncos (1994-2005 and since 2012) and as Harlequins Rugby League (2006-2011). Whilst the club has never won a major trophy, they were finalists in the 1999 Challenge Cup Final and finished the 1997 Super League season in second place.
Previous rugby league clubs in London 
Professional rugby league was briefly represented in London in the 1930s by London Highfield (1933), Acton & Willesden (1935–36) and Streatham & Mitcham (1935–36, disbanded March 1937). All were speculative clubs set up by local businessmen purely as money making exercises, and were ultimately driven out of business through poor finances. Thereafter, the sport of rugby league in England remained exclusively a northern based game for over forty years until the formation of new club in London called Fulham.
Fulham Rugby League Club (1980–1991) 
In June 1980, Fulham Football Club announced the formation of a rugby league team, with the primary intention of creating another income stream for the Association football club. The Rugby Football League (RFL), keen to try to expand the sport beyond its traditional northern heartland, accepted the new club at once and one of the game's leading players, Reg Bowden, was recruited by the team to act as player-coach. Within nine weeks, Bowden had assembled a team of experienced players approaching retirement, together with a few promising youngsters.
Nearly 10,000 curious fans turned up for the opening game at Craven Cottage, the newly formed side convincingly beat the highly regarded Wigan 24–5. The new Fulham RL team quickly proved to be very competitive and went on to win promotion at the end of their inaugural season.
After their initial season, immediate relegation in 1981-82 was something of a reality check. Despite winning the Division Two Championship the following year, a second immediate relegation coupled with continuing financial losses saw the parent football club end the relationship at the end of their fourth season. However, with the backing of supporters Roy and Barbara Close and with an enthusiastic new coach, former player Roy Lester, Fulham RL still had a future.
Fulham played two "home" games against Swinton and Huddersfield in Widnes, Cheshire in April 1983 as the pitch at the Cottage had disintegrated in the wet winter following the collapse of the main drain to the river Thames under the Miller Stand.
Between 1984 and 1994, the club spent periods based at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (1984–85 and 1990–93) and at Chiswick Polytechnic Sports Ground (1985–90). They also played several one-off games at soccer grounds around London such as Wealdstone, Hendon, Brentford and Chelsea's ground Stamford Bridge in 1983. In August 1986, Fulham hit a cash crisis and withdrew from RFL 11 days before the start of the season but re-launched in September.
London Crusaders (1991–1994) 
A 1991 name change to "London Crusaders" coincided with an entertaining and slightly more successful period on the pitch.
The Crusaders moved from Crystal Palace National Sports Centre to Barnet Copthall arena in June 1993. In November 1993, London Crusaders imposed 20% pay cut to ease financial problems. The RFL briefly owned the Crusaders in 1993/94 as the Bartrams departed.
The climax of this spell was a 1994 appearance in the Divisional Premiership Final under coach Tony Gordon. They lost 22-30 to Workington Town with Mark Johnson scoring a hat-trick and Logan Campbell also bagging a try.
London Broncos (1994–2005) 
In the spring of 1994 it was announced that the Australian NSWRL club the Brisbane Broncos, who had just won back-to-back premierships, was buying the London team, which would be renamed 'London Broncos'. Gordon was replaced by a Brisbane coach, Gary Grienke. During a period of improving fortunes they made the 1994 Divisional Premiership Final at Old Trafford.
Despite not playing in the top flight, London Broncos were selected by the RFL to be part of the new Super League competition in 1996 on the basis that it was essential for the sport to have a high profile representative in the capital. In their first year in the top flight, the 1995–96 Rugby Football League season, the Broncos came second last. Former Brisbane Bronco Tony Currie took up the role of Head Coach.
The Broncos moved to southeast London to play at The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic, which is when David Hughes became involved with the club. But after one season they were on their way back to west London to play at the Stoop Memorial Ground.
The 1996 season brought the best London attendances since the inaugural season at Craven Cottage. Tony Rea retired from playing at the end of the season to take up the Chief Executive role at the club.
After two years they moved once again, to the Harlequin rugby union club's Stoop Memorial Ground. Richard Branson's Virgin Group became majority shareholders, and the immediate future looked very bright. In 1997, after a remarkably good season they finished second in Super League. Highlights that year included victories at the Stoop over Canberra in the World Club Challenge and Bradford and Wigan in Super League II.
In 1998, as part of rugby league's "on the road" scheme London Broncos played Bradford Bulls at Tynecastle in Edinburgh in front of over 7,000 fans. Success continued in 1998 with a first appearance in the Challenge Cup semi-finals, losing to Wigan. Head coach Tony Currie left the club at the end of the 1998 Super League season and was replaced by Dan Stains.
In 1999, the club went one better, having its best cup run to date. Following a famous semi-final victory over Castleford, the Broncos reached the Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium for the first time, but were defeated 52-16 by Leeds. The club sacked Stains after the Broncos endured a long losing streak during the Super League campaign. Tony Rea was appointed temporary joint head coach with Stains' assistant Les Kiss. Rea and Kiss managed to steer Broncos out of the slump.
The Virgin Group then became the majority shareholder and in 1999, they reached the Challenge Cup Final, losing to Leeds Rhinos in what proved to be the last rugby league game ever to be played at the old Wembley Stadium.
In 2000, John Monie was appointed head coach. Monie only stayed in the job until the last month of the 2000 Super League season with the club endured a mediocre season during his tenure. Rea took over caretaker coach until the end of the season and Broncos sailed to mid-table security. Rea resigned his Chief Executive role at the end of the 2000 season to become head coach on a full-time basis.
In 2002, fervent supporter David Hughes purchased the majority shareholding from Virgin in a major restructuring of the club. the Broncos moved back across London to play at Griffin Park as tenants of Brentford FC. 2003 marked the club's first Super League play off appearance, losing in the first round to St. Helens 24-6 at Knowsley Road.
The 2005 season was marked by significant activity off the pitch as the club welcomed new chairman and majority shareholder Ian Lenagan who had bought up 65% of the shares. This was followed by the announcement of a partnership with Harlequins Rugby Union Club that saw the side return to Twickenham Stoop, this time renamed as Harlequins RL for the 2006 season.
Harlequins RL (2006–2011) 
On 8 July 2006, after a disappointing run of form for the team, the Harlequins Rugby League club announced a re-organisation of the coaching set-up. Rea was replaced as head coach by the Leeds Rhinos' assistant coach Brian McDermott and was appointed to a position on the club's board of directors.
The team completed its first season as Harlequins RL with 7th place in Super League XI. Although finishing strongly to avoid relegation, the run of four consecutive home defeats at the start of the season proved difficult to overcome.
A key factor was that the Rugby Football League allowed Chairman Ian Lenagan to became owner of his home town club Wigan Warriors in 2007 but did not force him to sell his controlling share. His associates Chairman Keith Hogg, who lived in Scotland and CEO Paul Brown were put in place as a short-term measure but no financial investment was made. David Hughes as minority shareholder effectively had to pay the considerable playing costs himself.
Not surprisingly, with a limited playing budget there was a sharp decline in playing standards which correlated with the departures of the likes of Henry Paul, Mark McLinden and Scott Hill and recruitment of new acquisitions who were frequently unavailable; some failed to play a single game such as Henry Fa'afili and Sione Haumuina whilst others were injured the majority of the time such as Chad Robinson and Luke Williamson.
McDermott presided over four seasons of Harlequins RL decline from 2007 to 2010, with the club dropping to 9th in both 2007 and 2008 and then falling to 11th in 2009 before dropping to 13th in his last season, 2010. In 2010, with a couple of games to go the Catalans in last position played Harlequins whom were next to last in what was effectively a 'wooden spoon decider'. Quins RL were winning by a handful of points and in the 78th minute Will Sharp took the ball from a Catalans hand in his own in-goal area, thus just avoiding the ignominy of a bottom place finish.
Under new coach Powell, 2011 saw the club's best start to a season ever, with three wins from their first three matches placing them at the top of the ladder. Away wins at Leeds Rhinos and St Helens seemed to herald a new dawn, however, the club's run of success was ended with a club record 82-6 defeat to Warrington Wolves on 20 March 2011 and the team were within a try of losing by the all-time Super League record margin of -80 held by Salford City Reds. Powell has since won only one further match with one draw and thirteen losses as of the start of July 2011.
The Broncos return to Super League (2012–) 
The club announced on 1 November 2011 that it would be reverting to the London Broncos name from 2012. In addition, the team unveiled a new logo as well as new colours of black, light blue and silver. On 4 February, the London Broncos played their first competitive match against St Helens RLFC since reverting their name back. The game was won by St Helens RLFC 34-24 in front of a 4,924 crowd, which was higher than all of their attendances in the year before. In the match 7 players made their debut for the club.
It was announced that for the 2012 season the Broncos would be having two games "on the road" away from the Twickenham Stoop. It was chosen that on 6 June the game vs Bradford Bulls would be play at Leyton Orient FC's Brisbane Road. Additionally the game on 20th vs Hull FC would be played at Gillingham FC's Priestfield Stadium, as a show of thanks for the work Medway Dragons have done in growing rugby league in Kent.
Kits and logos 
The different incarnations of the club have each worn different playing kits.
The original Fulham team wore an all black kit with a broad white chevron, trimmed with red, on the shirt which was unaltered during that club's existence. As London Crusaders, the kit used the same colours again, but in a variety of designs over the seasons. London Broncos wore red, yellow and blue also in a variety of styles, with red being the predominant colour for the last 5 years of their existence.
2013 squad 
Announced on 8 January 2013.
|2013 London Broncos Squad|
|First team squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 8 January 2013
2013 transfers 
|Player||Previous club||Years signed||Date|
|Shane Grady||Thirroul Butchers||2 Years||August 2012|
|Ben Fisher||Catalans Dragons - Assistant Coach||2 Years||August 2012|
|Tommy Lee||Huddersfield Giants||Years||August 2012|
|Alex Hurst||Swinton Lions||Years||August 2012|
|James Mendeika||Warrington Wolves||On Loan||April 2013|
|Player||Signed for||Years signed||Date|
|Ben Bolger||Abu Dhabi Harlequins||1 Year||September 2012|
|Karl Temata||Limoux Grizzlies||1 Year||September 2012|
|Omari Caro||Hull Kingston Rovers||2 Years||September 2012|
|Lamont Bryan||Featherstone Rovers||September 2012|
|Rob Thomas||London Skolars||September 2012|
|Joe Ridley||London Skolars||September 2012|
|Jason Golden||York City Knights||September 2012|
|Julien Rinaldi||Retire||September 2012|
|Max Edwards||Released||September 2012|
|Sam Bolger||Released||September 2012|
Players earning international caps while at the club 
- David Bishop won caps for Wales while at Hull Kingston Rovers, and London Crusaders in 1991…1992(1995?) 4-caps 1-try 4-points
- Lamont Bryan won caps for Jamaica while at Harlequins in 2009 against USA, in 2010 against USA and Canada
- Adrian Cambriani won caps for Wales while at Fulham in 1981 3-caps
- Mick Channing won caps for Wales while at London Broncos in 2012 against France and England
- Tony Clubb won caps for England while at Harlequins in 2008 against Wales, in 2009 against France and in 2010 against Papua New Guinea
- John Dalgreen won a cap for Great Britain while at Fulham in 1982 against Australia
- Lee Greenwood won caps for England while at London Broncos in 2004 against Russia, and Ireland
- Gareth Haggerty won caps for Ireland while at Harlequins in 2008 RLWC
- Karle Hammond won caps for Wales while at London Broncos (1996…?)1999 3(4?)-caps
- Solomon Haumono won caps for Tonga while at Harlequins in 2006 Federation Shield
- Martin Herdman won caps for Wales while at Fulham in 1981…1982 2(3?)-caps
- Sylvain Houles won caps for France while at London Broncos in 2001 against South Africa
- Steffan Hughes won caps for Wales while at London Broncos 2001(…2002?) 1-cap (sub)
- Thomas Leuluai won caps for New Zealand while at Harlequins in 2004…2006
- Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook won caps for England while at Harlequins in 2008 Wales, and in 2009 against Wales
- Chris Melling won caps for Great Britain while at Harlequins in 2007 against France
- David Mills won caps for Wales while at Harlequins in 2006 against Scotland
- Mick Nanyn won caps for Scotland while at Harlequins in 2008 RLWC
- Jamie O'Callaghan won caps for Ireland while at Harlequins in 2010 against Wales, Scotland and France
- Rob Purdham won caps for England while at Harlequins in 2006 against France, Tonga (2 matches), and Samoa
- Julien Rinaldi won caps for France while at Harlequins in 2007 against Great Britain, and in 2008 against England
- Louis Robinson won caps for Canada while at Harlequins in 2011 against Jamaica,1-try, USA away and home 2-points. 3 Caps
- Tyrone Smith won caps for Tonga while at Harlequins in 2006 Federation Shield
- Paul Sykes won caps for England while at London Broncos in 2005 against France, and New Zealand, and won caps for Great Britain while at Harlequins in 2007 against France
- Steve Thomas won caps for Wales while at Bradford Bulls, London Broncos, and Celtic Crusaders in 1999…2007 4(5?)-caps + 1-cap (sub) 2-tries 8-points
Individual player records 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2011)|
- Most tries in a game: 5 by Martin Offiah vs Whitehaven, 14 March 1999
- Most tries in a season (any competition): 43 by Mark Johnson, 1993-94
- Most tries in a season (Super League): 24 by Denis Moran, 2003
- Most career tries (any competition): 86 by Scott Roskell, 1992–97
- Most career tries (Super League): 74 by Denis Moran, 2001–04
- Most goals in a game (any competition): 13 by Rob Purdham vs Barrow Raiders, 20 May 2006
- Most goals in a game (Super League): 12 by Paul Sykes vs Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, 27 February 2005
- Most goals in a season (any competition): 159 by John Gallagher, 1993–94
- Most goals in a season (Super League): 120 by Paul Sykes, 2005
- Most career goals (any competition): 309 by Steve Diamond, 1981–84
- Most career goals (Super League): 229 by Paul Sykes, 2001–06
- Most points in a game (any competition): 34 by Rob Purdham vs Barrow Raiders, 20 May 2006
- Most points in a game (Super League): 28 by Greg Barwick vs Castleford Tigers, 25 August 1996
- Most Points in a season (any competition): 384 by John Gallagher, 1993–94
- Most Points in a season (Super League): 290 by Paul Sykes, 2005
- Most career points (any competition): 772 by Paul Sykes, 2001–07
- Most career points (Super League): 750 by Paul Sykes, 2001–07
- Most career appearances: 202 by Steele Retchless, 1998–2004
- Most tackles made in any Super League Match: 66 by Steele Retchless (against Bradford in 1998. This is an all-time Super League record)
Team records 
- Biggest victory (any competition): 82-0 vs Highfield (in Regal Trophy) on 12 November 1995
- Biggest victory (Challenge Cup): 82-8 vs Barrow Raiders on 20 May 2006
- Biggest victory (Super League): 72-8 vs Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on 27 February 2005
- Largest attendance (Super League): 29,627 vs Salford City Reds at Murrayfield Stadium on 2 May 2009
- Largest attendance (Challenge Cup): 15,013 vs Wakefield Trinity at Craven Cottage on 15 February 1981
See also 
- Rugby League: London lose their innocence on their last crusade: Dave Hadfield on the metamorphosis taking place after tomorrow's Second Division Premiership final The Independent, 21 May 1994
- York make Super League move BBC Sport, 31 August 2001
- Rae, Richard (5 February 2006). "Rugby League: London calling". Times Online (Times Newspapers Ltd.). Retrieved 27 December 2009.
- "The London Broncos are Back! (press release)". www.londonbroncosrl.com. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- Official website
- Harlequins RL – News, Interviews & Live Commentaries BBC London
- New chairman takes over at London BBC Sport, 22 July 2005
- Broncos link up with Harlequins BBC Sport, 26 July 2005