Kingston student becomes Harlequins mascot

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Harley the Bear entertains 15,000 rugby fans every weekend by dancing, playing games, taking pictures, and joking with the players.

Little does anyone know he is actually a criminology and sociology student at Kingston.

Zak Jones, 19, spends his Saturday afternoons parading around Twickenham Stoop Stadium dressed as Harley the Bear, the mascot for Premiership rugby team Harlequins.

Jones said: “It’s a cool job, I’m a big rugby fan so it’s nice to be part of such a huge club as the Harlequins and I want to keep working here as long as possible.

“You’d have thought I would get embarrassed but nobody can see who I am so it doesn’t matter. The holes for the eyes are really small so I always walk into things and trip up.”

Jones has worked for Harlequins since 2013 and has been 6ft 4ins since his school days – so he has always fitted into the Harley costume.

On an important match day Jones is given a long briefing about where he needs to be and when. Sometimes he is at the Twickenham train station to welcome supporters or take selfies with the young fans.

“It’s not normally that complicated, most weeks I just jump around and do stupid stuff,” he said.

He said that the young fans give him the most attention and he has ink stains all over his gloves because they want his signature before any of the players, but it is not always fun for the poor bear.

“The first time I put on the outfit I almost passed out because of the heat. It’s a really warm costume and with all of the dancing and play fighting it can get quite exhausting,” said Jones.

“The head is really heavy but when I get tired I can’t just take it off in case any of the kids see that I’m not real so I have to go into the changing rooms for a break.”

There are two mascots at each home game, Harley and Charlie. This season Jones was lucky enough to represent the club at the Harlequins v Northampton match on Boxing Day in front of a sell-out crowd of 83,000 fans at Twickenham stadium.

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