Wooden aiming to inspire the next generation as Quins smash attendance record ahead of London derby

Harlequins Ladies’ clash with Richmond at The Stoop on Saturday will be watched by a world-record crowd for a women’s club rugby match.

More than 4,000 tickets have already been sold for a game supporting the #pressforprogress campaign ahead of of International Women’s Day on March 8.

With several celebrated sportswomen such as Olympic gold medallists Christine Ohuruogu and Alex Danson also set to attend, Quins full-back Jess Wooden believes the day will inspire the next generation of female athletes.

She said: “It’s massive for them to come out and support us.

“If the girls pick up rugby that’s great, if they play a different sport that’s good too.

“They’ll hopefully be inspired to see really big names who have been pushing their sports forward as well.

“It’s just really good for girls to get out there and be able to express themselves through sport.”

Saturday’s fixture will shatter the record for a women’s club game, set when 1,500 saw Bristol Ladies beat Gloucester-Hartpury last October.

During the day, dubbed ‘Big Match,’ the area surrounding the Stoop will host exhibitions of women’s sport from organisations such as UK Sport, British Rowing and England Hockey.

Harlequins are also running a pre-match community club tournament, coaching clinics, and sessions run by Switch, a programme launched by the Harlequins Foundation to get girls into rugby.

Wooden suggests Saturday’s event is reaping the benefits from last summer’s World Cup in Ireland, where she was part of the USA side that finished fourth.

She said: “The numbers we had to watch all the games and the level of rugby was really something great to watch.

“We were gutted to not be in the final but England versus New Zealand was a really great game and you could see the direction that women’s rugby is moving towards – we just have so much talent out there now.”

The American and her club-mates will be showcasing that talent to more people than ever before on Saturday.

Quins are just one point behind table-topping Saracens and Wooden predicts this will add an extra layer to a potentially fiery occasion.

She said: “Richmond are probably one of our biggest rivals so it’ll be really nice to have a London derby.

“The competition between the teams is going to be really great.

“Richmond are going to bring some really hard hits and we’re ready to bring it as well.”

Tickets are still available and the weekend’s game is included in the 2017/18 membership, while prices are just £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.

With women’s rugby growing as fast as ever, Wooden knows Saturday could have a profound effect on the female stars of the future.

She said: “If we put on a good show for them maybe they’ll continue to come out and support the women’s game.

“If just one of the girls that comes out goes into club rugby that’s just huge.

“We just want girls to get out there and go play.”

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