At a sunny Stoop this morning Harlequins formally launched their Women and Girls programme ahead of the 2017/18 season.
In doing so, the Club has reaffirmed its commitment to growing and developing the women’s game by creating a pathway from grassroots to elite international rugby.
Girls can be introduced to the game through the Harlequins Foundation’s Switch programme and can then become more formally affiliated with the sport through the Harlequin Amateurs girls’ section.
Developing through minis, junior and teenage rugby, the option to play at a social or elite adult level is available through the Harlequins Ladies third, second and first teams.
The Harlequins first and second teams will compete in the RFU’s elite structures, while the third team will compete within the National Challenge 1 SE West League.
Commenting on the launch, Harlequins Global Development and Academy Director Tony Diprose said: “Developing women’s rugby is a key part of Harlequins’ five-year strategy as the Club looks to support the expansion of the game into new markets. Today is a landmark moment for Harlequins and we are so proud to be able to offer a programme that will enable aspiring girls to play and represent this great club at a high level.”
Formally launching the programme at The Stoop, members of the Harlequins Ladies first, second and third teams inspired the future generation of players by running a coaching session for 50 children on the pitch.
Participants included those on the Harlequins Foundation’s Switch programme, affiliated community clubs, and Harlequins Junior Members.
Under the watchful eyes of Harlequins Ladies co-Head Coaches Karen Findlay and Gary Street, the session was an exciting beginning to this long-term project.
“Today was about putting Harlequins at the forefront of the women’s game,” Street said. “We are all incredibly excited to be part of this venture in driving the development of our sport in a local, national and international environment.
“The interest in women’s rugby is ever increasing and we will be capitalising on the success of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, in which Harlequins has nine representatives, ahead of the inaugural Tyrell’s Premier 15s competition and beyond.”
In February, the RFU confirmed Harlequins’ place in the newly-formed Tyrell’s Premier 15s competition, which kicks off next month.
Having partnered with League and Cup champions Aylesford Bulls Ladies last season, they have been formally brought under the Harlequins umbrella, alongside the Harlequin Amateurs and Harlequins Ladies 3rd XV, for the 2017/18 season.
Playing their home matches at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, the Club has also confirmed that three matches will take place at The Stoop, against Bristol Ladies, Richmond, and Saracens.