Monye savours 'special' victory
May 27, 2012
Ugo Monye kicks off the celebrations at the final whistle © Getty Images
Harlequins winger Ugo Monye believes that their maiden Aviva Premiership title is all the more special as it was achieved against Leicester Tigers - the "ultimate champions".
Tries from skipper Chris Robshaw and winger Tom Williams helped Quins shed their underdog tag at Twickenham on Saturday, where the Tigers were felled 30-23.
Monye - who will now jet off to South Africa after winning an England recall - reserved special praise for their opponents, whose late rally sent pulses racing among Quins' players and fans.
"I wanted to play Leicester in the final," Monye said. "They are the ultimate champions - they've won Heineken Cups and Premiership titles - and if you want to announce yourself on the English stage then you need to beat the likes of Leicester.
"They are a fantastic side. The resilience they showed to come back when they were 17 points down was superb. I have so much respect for [Leicester director of rugby] Richard Cockerill. To be champions is one thing, but to do it against Leicester makes it even more special."
Monye laid a lot of credit for Quins' dramatic turnaround - it is only three years since the club's name was dragged through the mud by Bloodgate - at the feet of coach Conor O'Shea, insisting that the former Ireland fullback had changed the culture at the Stoop.
"This is another chapter in this new era of rugby at Harlequins," Monye said. "We have got a lot of experience. We've beaten Toulouse away, we beat Munster away last season, Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final and Leicester away this year.
"The biggest change at Harlequins has been the culture that Conor has influenced. He knows how to get the very best out of young talent. He has developed and matured us, and massive credit goes to him.
"It was a dark time for the club three years ago, but that is over now. He spoke before the final and said the reason he came to Quins were for days like Saturday. We were top of the Premiership the whole season, and if people expected us to choke, we didn't. Mentally, it is tough - the season seems never-ending - but to come through and win a major trophy is testament to the guys.
"When the final whistle went, Conor was one of the first people I looked for. I wanted to go over and give him a hug because I know how much it means to him and how much he has sacrificed."
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