MA in Sports Journalism at St Mary's University

Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

“Game Changer” Set to Break Women’s Rugby Record at the Stoop

If you are at a loose end on Saturday afternoon and fancy being part of a world record then why not head to the Twickenham Stoop.

Harlequins Ladies will attempt to host the biggest crowd for a women’s club rugby match when they take on Gloucester-Hartpury in a match being billed as “The Game Changer.”

The record currently stands at 4,545 which was set at the Stoop when Quins took on local rivals Richmond a year ago but with ticket sales already over the 4,000 mark for tomorrow’s game it is set to break the record.

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Staging the match has been far from straightforward for the club with a clash with the men’s European Challenge Cup quarter final against Worcester.

Kick off therefore for the “Game Changer” has been brought forward to 2pm to allow supporters wishing to make the trip to Worcester for an 8.15pm kick off to attend both matches. 

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Seven of England’s Six Nations Grand Slam squad are set to don the multi-coloured jersey with scrum half Leanne Riley praising the work done off the field to put this event on.

“I am not sure there are that many clubs that have got our faces outside stadiums and have got The Game Changer plastered over bus stops and big billboards all across town,” she said.

“They haven’t come to watch the men and thought ‘oh, I will stay on because this is happening’, they have come here because they have seen the advertisement, they are interested in women’s rugby and they are coming to watch us play,”

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At the wheel for this Harlequins squad are the duo of Gary Street and Karen Findlay.

Findlay, who is a former Scottish international and is a police officer when she is not coaching Harlequins, admitted this occasion will be special not just for the rugby club but for women’s rugby as a whole. 

She said: “Everybody in the squad has been looking forward to this fixture all season, and it’s been really hard to keep a lid on our excitement.”

“An immense amount of effort has gone into this fixture from everyone at the Club and it’s phenomenal for women’s rugby and the growth of the sport as a whole.”

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The match will give Harlequins the opportunity to celebrate another strong season in the Premer 15s. They have won 14 of their 17 matches scoring an enormous 671 points. 

Last weekend’s 76-12 win over Darlington Mowden-Park Sharks confirmed their place in the playoffs. They will face Loughborough Lightning in a two legged semi final with the winners facing Wasps or reigning champions Saracens in the final at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton on April 27th

If you want to be part of “The Game Changer” on Saturday (2pm kick off), then tickets will be on sale at the Stoop for £10 for adults & £5 for children. Harlequins season ticket holders have the match included in their membership. 

Featured image- Rob Sutton