Robshaw braces for emotional Harlequins farewell in 300th game

London (AFP) –


Former England rugby captain Chris Robshaw says a final circuit of his Harlequins home ground felt "like I was being walked to my death" as he prepares to play his 300th and final game for the club on Sunday.

The 34-year-old flanker's last outing for the English Premiership club will be at Leicester before he starts a new chapter in the United States with San Diego Legion.

"They are preparing a surf board for me," he joked, adding he was also having motorbike lessons ahead of his switch to Major Rugby League.

Robshaw, popular and with a self-deprecatory sense of humour, said it was "devastating" not to have had fans at Harlequins' Stoop ground for his farewell on Monday, which ended in defeat against Wasps.

His final match will also be played behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions.

Robshaw says he is proud to reach the 300-game landmark, 15 years after his first-team debut for the club, whom he led to the Premiership title in 2012.

"It was something I first started thinking about earlier in the season, what number of games I was on, and I knew it would be touch and go," he said.

"I did not realise it would be the last game, something which when I first started I would never have dreamed of.

"Achieving this incredible milestone, to represent them so many times -- the good, the bad and the ugly so to speak -- it might not mean a lot to others but it makes me feel rather proud."

- 'Closure' -

Robshaw's nadir as a player came at the 2015 World Cup when he and head coach Stuart Lancaster took the brunt of the criticism as England exited in the first round.

The forward had been captain since the 2012 Six Nations, enduring an agonising run of four successive runners-up spots in the northern hemisphere championship -- three of those on points difference.

Lancaster's replacement, Eddie Jones, stripped Robshaw of the captaincy, installing Dylan Hartley as skipper, but he is not bitter about that.

"The final World Cup pool game against Uruguay I thought 'this is it, this is the end'," said Robshaw, who skippered England in 43 of his 66 Test appearances.

"I was in a horrible situation but Eddie was honest when we chatted behind closed doors for about an hour-and-a-half.

"We got to know each other and I have a huge amount of respect for him for the trust he showed in me and gave me a second life."

That second coming resulted in a Six Nations Grand Slam and a historic 3-0 series win in Australia in 2016.

"That whole year for me had a huge meaning, coming on the back of the World Cup and the lowest point of my career," said Robshaw.

"Losing out three successive times on points difference, looking back on it affected me massively. Winning the Grand Slam took us in that group so long to achieve.

"However, it is the second Test victory over Australia (23-7) which was my 50th cap, which stands out.

"I was man of the match, Jason Leonard presenting me with it in the dressing room and everyone applauding me.

"It meant so much to me as for me it was closure on a very difficult chapter as in the year before. It was a massive step forward."