Powerful, quick, London born-and-bred and Quins through and through, Ugo Monye is a real crowd favourite, and tomorrow when Quins take on Prato, he will make his 150th appearance for the London club.
Ugo was first introduced to Quins after his former sports master put him in touch with coach Collin Osborne and the club soon offered him a contract, which he signed on November 6th 2001.
“When Quins offered me a professional contract straight out of school, I never thought about doing anything else. I did have Arsenal trials when I was 16 but I was never quite good enough, and although I was a good at athletics, I never really took it seriously enough. When I was offered a contract at Quins my decision about what to do after school was made for me in a way. I always wanted to be involved in sport and this was a great chance.”
His first time playing at the Stoop was a mixture of nerves and excitement:
“My first game was against London Irish. I was so nervous about the match that I had completely forgotten my boots and had to play in what I was given by the kit man. I was handed one Nike boot and one Reebok boot and had to make do. Thankfully we won by a large margin but I have always remembered to check that I have my boots in my bag since!”
During his time with Quins, Ugo has achieved representative honours at England U19 and U21 level, he went on to be a key member of the England Sevens squad throughout the 2002-03 and 2003-04 IRB World Sevens Series, and was part of the team that competed in the 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong.
Monye made his full England debut in England’s 39-13 victory over the Pacific Islanders at Twickenham in 2008 and has thus far gone on to make a further 12 test appearances. The summer of 2009 saw him called up into the British and Irish Lions squad which played South Africa, where he started in two tests.
His favourite memories of Quins have been of winning the Parker Pen Challenge Cup in 2004, the two Heineken Cup victories over Stade Francais in 2008, his first hat-trick away against Rotherham in 2003, his first full debut against Wasps (where he scored 2 tries) and the recent win over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.
So, what does Quins mean to the winger?
“Harlequins means everything to me. It has been lovely to see the development of the club over the last 10 years – the stadium, fan base and the development of so many young, English players who have come through to challenge for not only first team spots but also national honours.
“We have a fantastic squad of players and coaches who support and encourage each other, but I am so thankful for the way the fans have embraced me.
“I am in a really good place at the moment.”
Ugo’s commitment to the club sees him with the London team for at least another 2 years and tomorrow he passes a massive milestone with his 150th appearance… let’s just hope he has packed his boots this time!
Ugo will be leading the team out next Saturday at the Stoop in the crucial final pool match against Bayonne.