Harlequins Ladies target biggest crowd for women's club rugby union match

Holly Myers of Harlequins Ladies and Ffion Lewis of Gloucester-Hartpury in action
Harlequins Ladies are top of the Premier 15s table and are yet to lose in the inaugural competition

Harlequins Ladies have announced plans to attract the biggest attendance to a women's club rugby union match.

The unbeaten Premier 15s league leaders have targeted their local derby match against Richmond Ladies on 10 March at the Twickenham Stoop to set a new record.

In the UK, women's club rugby records are hard to stand up, with many fixtures played at open grounds, making the planned fixture a benchmark.

Harlequins head coach Gary Street would not put an exact number on the club's ambitions, but did say: "We want to have thousands of people at the Stoop for a standalone women's game."

Earlier this season, Bristol Ladies' match against Gloucester-Hartpury at Ashton Gate had a recorded crowd of 1,500, although this was played directly after Bristol's men's fixture against London Scottish.

Similar records have been kept for other women's clubs games that have been played before or after men's Premiership or Championship fixtures.

Street is hopeful that the game will attract a new women's rugby audience, adding: "I think they'll find a full-blooded occasion.

"The games against Richmond in recent years have been very physical and I think that might surprise a few people who haven't seen women's rugby before."

The Twickenham Stoop hosted the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup final where a then-record international crowd of 13,253 watched New Zealand beat England.

The biggest UK attendance for a women's rugby union match was August's 2017 World Cup final at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast, which was watched by 17,115 fans.

The biggest global attendance is thought to be the 2014 Women's World Cup final when the Stade Jean Bouin sold out its 20,000 seats.

However, with France failing to make the final, an official attendance was never recorded as many fans watched the home nation in the third/fourth place play-off between France and Ireland but did not stay on to watch England beat Canada in the showpiece.

The launch of the new Premier 15s league hoped to increase the profile of women's club rugby in England and follows the success of football's Women's Super League and netball's Superleague.

The WSL crowd record is 4,096, set by Manchester City Ladies at the Academy Stadium when they beat Chelsea Ladies 2-0 to win the 2016 title.

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