Harlequins head coach Conor O’Shea was unable to cap off his six-year reign in charge of his team with a trophy as they went down to Montpellier in Friday’s Challenge Cup final, however he has laid the foundations for a bright future.
O’Shea will leave for Italy at the end of the season after agreeing to coach the national team and his replacement John Kingston will have plenty to work with in his first season in charge of Quins.
The departing boss praised his players’ fighting spirit in pushing Jake White’s Montpellier all the way to the final whistle.
“They fought tooth and nail to the bitter end and I couldn’t be prouder of them. This is a great group of players and Harlequins is a great club,” said O’Shea.
“We have come such a long way together and there are great people, great supporters and great players at this club. They are a real family and they will pick themselves up after this disappointment and I know they will be at the top table for many years.
“As my daughter’s old head mistress used to say, ‘don’t be sad it’s over, just be glad it has happened.’ My players have given everything they could and I’m proud to call them my friends now that I’m not their boss anymore.
O’Shea further added that his team showed good composure and fighting spirit when they were trailing heavily at one stage during the match.
“At 26-9, there were two choices – raise the white flag or fight. I’m proud we took the second option. We knew it was going to be hard and we lost our momentum in the season after we went though a bad period during the Six Nations.”