When we think of tough with a capital T, we think of rugby players. When we think of gentle and dainty, we think of Harlequin romances. So exactly who are the Dallas Harlequins? A rough, tough, dainty, gentle rugby team that just happens to be the Texas state champions.
For those who didn’t know there were rugby teams in Texas, a quiet force has been developing right beneath your noses. The team was born in 1971 when Dallasite Nelson Spencer met South African Stafford Turner. Turner was “just traveling around the world” and had stopped in Dallas. Spencer was playing for another Dallas rugby team and wanted to form his own. The two men decided to put a team together; so they put ads in the two local newspapers. So began the Dallas Harlequins.
At the time, there were eight rugby teams in Texas. Today there are 40 in the state, including nine in the Dallas area. Though rugby, the world’s largest amateur team-sport, is definitely gaining popularity in Texas and across the country, it still seems to be an international sport. The Harlequins are a case in point.
Currently, the “Quins,” as they call themselves, have 50 members. Besides Turner, there are three other South Africans on the team, along with two New Zealanders, one Argentinean, two Frenchmen and two Irishmen. The Quins have traveled across the United States and have taken on several teams from other countries. Invariably, the players have picked up new team members along the way. Although there is no pay involved in the sport, several players have moved to Dallas from other countries for the chance to play with the Quins.
The players practice two nights a week and, during the fall and winter months, they play almost every Saturday. The Quins are a diversified group, including attorneys and bricklayers who range in age from the teens to mid-40s. The common force behind the team is a love for the sport and desire to be champions. They have been state champions for the past three years.
There is one other unifying factor within the group: the members’ love of a good time at the team’s favorite bar.