Ugo Monye has seen it all at Harlequins – the despair of relegation, the shock of scandal and now, finally, the joy of success.
At 29, the winger is Quins’ longest-serving player having been at the Stoop for 11 years but has had to wait for glory, with Saturday’s Aviva Premiership title success the biggest trophy he has won to date, following last season’s Amlin Cup triumph.
It has been a long journey for the man who made his first-team debut in 2002 and, now he has the taste for the champagne moments, he wants more.
“We always knew this day would come it was just a matter of when,” he said.
“When you look at the likes of Matt Hopper, he was playing in the Championship play-offs this time last year and now has a Premiership medal, it’s amazing, but I had to wait a bit longer.
“I consider this my first major trophy, the Amlin Cup was a springboard for our form this year and, hopefully, we can use the Premiership title as a springboard to further things as a club.
“Our trophy cabinet is not really something to boast about, this is amazing to have but we cannot rest on our laurels.
“When you have someone like Conor O’Shea leading the way and the youthful English talent we have at this club, everyone is really wanting to do well and go further. That is the way it should be.
“It’s so exciting with the young guys coming through, they push us all the time and it makes us a better team.
“They are massive talents and I am so excited to be a part of it if I can help mentor these guys to come through and enjoy days like Saturday in years to come.”
Quins have long had a reputation for flashy, fast-paced rugby, but the difference this season has been their defence – epitomised in the last four minutes of the final when they held off wave after wave of Leicester attack as the Tigers searched for the converted try needed to take the game into extra time.
“This Harlequins shirt really means something when you play in it and I think that shows in how we defend,” added Monye.
“But we have proved so many people wrong throughout the year it’s amazing, we are great when we have our backs against the wall.
“We are still a good backline, but it has been our forward pack that have brought us to this position – they have been immense.
“We have a really good balance to our side and have shown maturity. Although we have a lot of young guys, we have a lot of big game experience as well.
“This is another chapter in this new era of rugby at Harlequins.”