From The Vaults

09 May 2022
#FromTheVaults - Harlequins cap, 1920-21

With Harlequins taking on Gloucester at Twickenham Stadium this month, we're highlighting thehis Harlequins cap which was awarded to William Wavell Wakefield in the 1920-21 season when he was club captain. It is kindly loaned to the museum by his family.

Harlequins FC was originally founded as Hampstead FC in 1866. During the 1869/70 season, with many of their players no longer from the Hampstead area, it was decided that the club needed a new name. It was agreed that the club should retain its motto, nunquam dormio (I never sleep), and its 'HFC' monogram. They therefore needed a new name beginning with the letter 'H'. The story goes that committee members went through a dictionary looking for a suitable word and chose 'Harlequin', the name of a stock comic character in the Italian commedia dell'arte theatre genre. A type of clown, the character is known for his quick wit, physical agility and mischievous nature.

With the club's change of name, there was a change of kit - the team no longer wore black and gold hooped jerseys. Their jerseys were now light blue, magenta, chocolate and French grey quartered, with green and black sleeves. The iconic colourful jersey referenced the costume traditionally worn by the Harlequin character, and the clown himself was adopted as the emblem on the team's caps.

Quins played their home games at fifteen different locations between 1866 and 1909, when they took up residence at the newly built Twickenham Stadium. They were still playing their home games at Twickenham when Wakefield began playing for the club in 1919. He went on to make 136 appearances for the club over the next ten years and captained the team 82 times. Wakefield also represented the Royal Air Force, Cambridge University, Middlesex, the Barbarians and England. He played 31 matches for the national team - 13 as captain - and played in three Five Nations grand slam winning teams. He became President of the Rugby Football Union in 1950 and also served as President of Harlequins between 1950 and 1980.

In 1963, Quins acquired a training ground on the other side of the A316 from Twickenham Stadium; it would become their home ground, The Twickenham Stoop - named after Adrian Stoop, another England captain and Harlequins stalwart. Occasionally, however, the team still returns to play matches at Twickenham Stadium, a venue which would have been very familiar to the Harlequins hero who wore this cap.

Are you coming to Twickenham for the Big Summer Kick-Off?

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The World Rugby Museum will be open 10:00 - 15:00 on Saturday 21 May 2022, ahead of Harlequins v Gloucester.