THREE Oxford Harlequins stalwarts were the first recipients of a new title recognising those who have given years of service to the club, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

Paul de Lange, Allan Purchase and Andy Boyle all received the Quins 100 cap honour before Saturday’s visit of Sherborne.

The award goes to first team players and coaches who have performed consistently not just for Quins but also Oxford Old Boys and Oxford Marathons, who merged to form the current set-up in 1996.

De Lange was one of the first Quins players and was still turning out for the club last season, while he was made life vice president in June.

Club captain Purchase is in his ninth season with the side, while Boyle recently stood down as head coach due to work commitments.

More caps will be handed out during the season and chairman Neil Hopper paid tribute to the trio of club servants.

He said: “Paul has been with the club since day one – everyone knows who he is.

“He was still putting his body on the line even into his early 50s, which shows what a club man he is.

“Allan is a font of knowledge for everyone that plays alongside him and well-respected within the club and the county.

“It’s nice that Andy can sign off by being recognised as the club stalwart he has always been.”

De Lange has also been instrumental in boosting Quins’ mini and junior section, which has swelled to more than 450 players.

This is part of the South West 1 East outfit’s ‘One Club’ vision that has crystallised since they moved to Horspath Sports Ground last year.

The club’s academy has enough players to field two squads and the demand for places means Quins will launch a 3rd XV later this month, which will play on Friday evenings.

All Oxfordshire teams can use the £800,000 artificial pitch at Horspath, with the club also keen to strengthen links with the city’s schools.

Quins’ 22-18 reverse against Sherborne made it two defeats from two at Horspath in the league this season, but their director of rugby, Stuart Wells, maintains the facility feels like home.

He said: “It feels like the foundations were laid last season, it’s now all about building for the future.

“It’s a facility for the whole city and it’s fantastic to have.”

The 100 cap honours were awarded at Saturday’s sponsors and Vice Presidents’ lunch.

There, a raffle raised £280 for this season’s chosen charity, Relay For Life Oxford, which raises money for Cancer Research UK.

Elsewhere, Oxford University beat Croatia 76-10 at Iffley Road, winger Tom Stileman running in six tries.

The Dark Blues host the Royal Navy at Iffley Road tomorrow (7.15).