After their historic win over Leinster as part of Big Game 12, Harlequins hat-trick hero Jess Breach called for more women’s games to be played in bigger stadia, writes Nicola Kenton.
In a first for women’s club rugby, the Premier 15s leaders produced a sensational display of rugby as they ran out 47-26 winners at Twickenham.
It was the first time the women’s team had been involved in a Big Game and following on from the men’s 30-30 draw with Leicester Tigers, 7,514 supporters stayed to watch the 11-try thriller.
England international Breach was involved from the off, scoring Quins’ opening two tries and completing her hat-trick just before the break.
The 22-year-old was impressed at the number of supporters who stayed to watch and hoped this match would potentially be the start of a new normal which would see women’s rugby played in bigger venues.
“It was amazing,” Breach said. “I think it was really nice to come out after Christmas and to get together with the team and play at Twickenham is fantastic, to get a score like that is really good.
“Personally, it’s nice to get three tries but it definitely worked well from the team. I really like playing here at Twickenham, the pitch here is really wide and it’s just a nice place to play at.
“Especially when the crowd stays like it did, I think it’s fantastic and it’s where the women’s game needs to go.
“It needs to play at big stadiums like this, yes we’re not going to fill it out but potentially soon we are. It just needs to keep growing and it’s fantastic to play at the home of England rugby.
“The history is fantastic and it’s amazing for the women’s game but obviously everyone when you play and put on a jersey, whether it’s Leinster or Quins or any other team, you want to win.
“We did that and we really put our best foot forward going into the New Year and into the Tyrrells Premier 15s.”
Intensity and physicality were at the heart of the encounter with scores from Rachael Burford and Anna Caplice giving Quins a 33-12 lead at half-time.
Leinster never gave up and kept Quins honest as they dotted down four tries of their own but second-half scores from Amy Cokayne and Fiona Fletcher sealed the victory for the London outfit.
Irish international and try-scorer Caplice believed both sides should be proud of the determined and pulsating spectacle they produced.
“It was really enjoyable and really tough, which we knew it would be. They brought massive physicality,” Caplice added.
“I think both teams were really trying out loads of different things and trying to get on the front foot really aggressively.
“That was really impressive and hopefully really entertaining for everyone here and everyone tuning in at home. I think both teams should be really proud of what they’ve done.
“When we were in the dressing room everyone said let’s go and make history, so everyone wanted to do a really good job. Hearts on our sleeve, playing for each other and it was a really enjoyable game.”