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Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, the Specials topped the charts and future Cov legend Paul ‘Mad Dog’ Thomas had just joined England full back Marcus Rose at Coundon Road when Coventry last left Harlequins with a win.

Current head coach Alex Rae had not yet arrived on planet Earth on that 1980 day, but he is very much looking forward to taking his exciting young side to the Stoop Memorial Ground where this Saturday they aim to build on last week’s memorable Premiership Rugby Cup win over multiple European Cup winners Saracens.

“Most of the lads won’t have played there before but to be honest we could be playing on a park pitch in the middle of nowhere and we would approach things in just the same way,” he said.

“Playing on a nice ground like the Stoop adds to the sense of occasion and the lads will hopefully rise to that like they did on Saturday. We seem to have got a lot of firsts under our belt in recent times and this is another one to add to the story.

“We spoke early in the week about not over-celebrating our win against Saracens – it was a home game after all and we expect to win our home games – so we have moved on pretty quickly.

“We have a massive challenge now in West London against Harlequins. The competitor in me says ‘let’s go and take another scalp down there’ so we have quickly moved to the challenge that lies ahead.”

Rae said that following last season’s third-place finish in the Championship his club is totally committed to making a mark in this season-opening cup competition.

Alex Rae coaching the Coventry side

“We are 100 per cent focused on the cup – playing against opponents of the calibre of Sarries’ Tom Willis and Nick Isiekwe and some of the players we will face at Quins and Gloucester we would otherwise come unstuck pretty quickly.

“Why wouldn’t we want to win a trophy? I’m not saying we’ll go all the way in the cup this year but professional rugby is a short career which plenty of people end without winning anything so we are concentrating on putting in good performances and seeing where that takes us.”

Unlike most of the colleagues, Cov’s senior players Matt Kvesic and Will Chudley have both faced Harlequins home and away on many occasions during their time with Exeter, Worcester and in the flanker’s case Gloucester.

Rae acknowledged that this experience is helpful for their younger teammates but also pointed to what a youthful outlook can bring. 

“Will and Matt both lead by example on the pitch and have both been there and done it during their time playing in the Premiership,” he said.

“It is great for the rest of the lads to have that experience to lean on but at the same time we have a youthful exuberance about our group which means we play without fear. 

“Most of our players haven’t experienced what they both have and approach every new situation with a real sense of excitement. They’re on a journey together and love the challenges they meet along the way.”

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