The Harlequins Rugby Club have taken a huge sidestep and purchased a new inner city home.

The Harlequins have bought the former Methodist Hall, beside the overbridge on Church St, for an undisclosed sum.

The club has also sold its Morrison Park grounds but have a lease-back arrangement for four years.

Harlequins were well under way with plans to build clubrooms at Morrison Park next year but a very good out-of-the-blue offer caused a change of heart.

Harlequins is an amalgamation of the former Zingari and Star clubs and since forming just over a decade ago their senior rugby side have an envious record of winning five championship titles in 10 years but they have had no luck finding a suitable social base.

The purchase of the hall, with its variety of rooms, suits the rugby club perfectly.

Harlequins spokesperson Murray Roberts said the Harlequins asset managers and board deliberated over the substantial offer made and in the end decided to sell.

One of the main reasons was the fact the grounds were out of town and used for training and only a few games only over five months each year, so it was unrealistic to turn down such an offer, he said.

"The offer came completely out of left field as the club had intended building new clubrooms at Morrison Park to be ready for the 2009 season."

Harlequins did not wish to disclose the buyer or the price.

Roberts said the deal also sees the Harlequins able to use Morrison Park over the next four years before finally vacating.

"Also taken into consideration was the historical value of the grounds built up over the last 46 years -- 36 years of history of the Star RFC and more recently 10 years of the Harlequins RFC."

Roberts said with the sale of grounds, the Harlequins have purchased a building that will be become the club's headquarters from the 2009 season.

"The newly purchased building at 34 Church Street was formerly owned by the Timaru Methodist Circuit and is correctly zoned for use as clubrooms.

"The building measures 521m and will be fully renovated over the next six months to meet the needs of the Harlequins, for all past, present and supporting members to use and enjoy."

As the building is of interest of the Historical Places Trust, no structural renovation will be made, he said.

Roberts said it was intended that the history of both the Star and Zingari Rugby Clubs will be prominently displayed.

Harlequins have asked the South Canterbury Rugby Union to play senior and development grade games at Morrison Park from 2009 but Roberts said that they had rescinded that request and that the status quo of playing games at Alpine Energy Stadium remains.

Ad Feedback "The Harlequins, with agreement from the Timaru District Council, will continue to lease grounds at Ashbury Park where there are already training lights and changing rooms established with the view that they become the training grounds for all teams post the Morrison Park era."

Harlequins' 140 schoolboy players have used Ashbury Park since 1998.

The Star Rugby Football Club committee minutes of October 1962 show that George Adkins and Neil Wakefield were given authority at the time to purchase the 12-plus acre block on Seadown Road up to a value of 3500 pounds ($7000).

The land was duly purchased and named Morrison Park after Mr Tom Morrison (All Black and NZRFU chairman) who played his rugby for Star in the 1940s.

The clubrooms were built by members soon afterwards.

The building and a small part of the land was sold in 2001 as it had not been used since 1998 after the formation of the Harlequins

Mr Wakefield, who conducted the original Star deal and remains on the Harlequins board, said that rugby has moved on and it was inevitable that an offer would have be made on the land at some stage and the very difficult decision would have to be made whether to retain or sell.

Zingari's Turnbull St clubrooms were sold in 2002 after being on the market after the merger