Followers of all sports have been conditioned to equate elite success with being all business, publicly padlocked, singularly driven, colourless and generally un-fun.
Fair or unfair, the two most successful rugby organisations, the New Zealand All Blacks and the England national team, feed this perception.
Hawick Harlequins, while not on the elite level of the All Blacks and England, yet, have taken a different route but are feeling the same success their illustrious counterparts have enjoyed.
Before they became East Regional Division One leaders, before they became the second highest scoring team in the East Regional Leagues, before they earned a BT Shield semi-final berth, before losing just three times in 13 months, Quins added something many wouldn’t attribute to winning.
“We are a club that has fun,” said Gary Murdie, Harlequins’ coach.
“Fun is the staple ingredient that has propelled the club from middle-of-the-road, barely-surviving and just-happy-to-get-a-team-out-on-a Saturday to now genuine contenders to enter Scottish Rugby’s top four National Divisions.
“There is not one single reason for the club getting to where we are, but if were to pick one it is that we are a club that everyone works hard in and has fun while we do it” continued Murdie.
“From the top down everyone has been committed to working together and making sure we build a winning environment.
“Whether that be the team of coaches we have who work tirelessly to make sure training is never stale, the committed committee members who make sure everything is looked after or the players who have developed a team spirit that has been unbreakable for most of the past 13 months.”
The full meaning of what Quins are building is still being determined. For years, the club have just been playing the underdog in-town rival to Hawick RFC and not quite breaking through on Quins inferiority complex.
Now, back on top, life is good for the Quins but their success, on and off the field, has not been as simple as adding fun, it has been a process that goes back six years and involves a long weekend in Wales.
“I think the most common misconception is that people think our success this season is because picked up YM players when they fell away this season,” said Murdie.
“Yes we picked up a few boys but the squad that plays on a Saturday has largely been with us for years now.
“They have been playing at the Quins for three, four or five years, maturing and developing together. People just assume we got this injection of players and became good.
“Where we are today has been a five to six year process and we are now seeing the rewards.
“Two years ago we finished eighth in East 1, one year ago we finished fifth and now we are top. It has been a process of consistently building with a playing group who have stayed together for years and grown together. Another factor was a bonding trip we took to Wales last February.
“That really brought us closer together as a club and we have not looked back since.
“The team we have today is probably the best team since 2002. It has a balance of youth and experience all committed to playing together. They are all mates, they enjoy what they do and have fun doing it. That only happens when you stay together for years and build something together.”
It has been a unique and fun season for Harlequins in 2017. Whether they gain promotion or not the club has established a blueprint for future success.
“It has been a fun and all round great season for us,” Murdie added.
“But there is still a lot more to come.”