Stephen Ferris has questioned whether Harlequins were being “disrespectful” to the European Challenge Cup after fielding a largely second-string side to play Ulster.
Harlequins were dominated by Ulster at the Twickenham Stoop in their Challenge Cup last 16 encounter, as they suffered a 36-point loss to end their European aspirations.
The result was rather unsurprising given the match day squads each side had named, as Quins selected a team made up of young and inexperienced players to take on an Ulster team laden with Ireland internationals.
🃏 𝐇𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐝𝐞𝐛𝐮𝐭.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) April 5, 2021
‘Was it a game they were willing to lose?’
Former Ireland and Ulster flanker Ferris took to Twitter after the game to comment on the inexperienced Harlequins team that were “battered” by Ulster.
“Quins being disrespectful to the Challenge Cup with their team selection tonight? Or is it a game they were willing to lose so that they could look at younger talent, with also one eye on the Premiership? Absolutely battered by Ulster,” Ferris tweeted.
Quins being disrespectful to the Challenge Cup with their team selection tonight? Or is it a game they were willing to lose so that they could look at younger talent, with also one eye on the Prem? Absolutely battered by @UlsterRugby
— Stephen Ferris (@StephenFerris6) April 4, 2021
The team selection from Harlequins was likely done to try to ensure that the south-west London club stay in contention for the Premiership’s top four.
Harlequins are currently in fourth place in the Premiership table, but the likes of Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers are close behind them with only six games to go in the regular season.
The Londoners haven’t qualified for the Premiership play-offs since 2014, and a top four finish would come as a huge boost to Billy Millard, who has been acting as the club’s director of rugby since Paul Gustard’s departure in January.