A sun drenched Stoop rocked on Saturday, it rocked to the excitement of a cup semi final, it rocked to the sight of the some of the world’s top rugby players going head to head, and hell for leather, and it rocked because it proved once and for all that the women’s game is the real deal.
On a day of shades and shorts there were fans queuing waiting for the gates to open, the whole atmosphere felt different, there was an edge, a big game ambience, something I have not witnessed before in the women’s domestic game.
It felt more like Tenerife than Twickenham, but as well as factor 50, there was also X Factor on show, and it came in many forms.
You can take your pick from Rachael Burford’s delicious floating passes, to Deborah McCormack jumping like a salmon at the line out, the skill sets on show were a joy to behold.
Scrum half Leanne Riley barked at her forwards and sniped around the scrum like a hungry Jack Russell, providing fly half Ellie Green with a service that Roger Federer would have been proud of, whilst Zoe Sayner put her body on the line time and time again hitting rucks and mauls like a rampaging bull.
There are over 100,000 different species of the insect variety of Wasp who are renowned for their persistence, but when it comes to the two-legged rugby version, there is one Wasp that is always a delight to watch.
I’m referring of course to Dannielle Waterman who’s silky skills are more butterfly than Wasp, watching her glide like a phantom through tackles with a grace that would be a credit to the Bolshoi, was worth the entrance fee alone.
The home side had the slender advantage of a six point lead from the first leg of this Tyrrells Premier 15s semi final, and you sensed from the kick off that they were not going to let that slip.
This was Quins third semi final match in seven days, in various competitions, and coaches Gary Street and Karen Findlay have had to manage their charges carefully, inevitably some players have had to perform in all three matches, and there were some tired bodies, and minds at Twickenham last night.
Quins lost wing Ellie Miles after eight minutes and centre Fiona Pocock after nineteen minutes, both injured, but it caused little disruption and it was replacement Stacey White who scored the first points of the game with a try on the half hour.
Jess wooden added a second on thirty-four minutes and Quins went into the sheds with a 10-0 lead, and an aggregate scoreline of 35-19 in their favour.
Harlequins started the second half like bats of out hell and Deborah McCormack who is making the number 7 shirt her own these days, scored for the second week running with a twenty metre sprint to the line,
On fifty-two minutes prop idol Vickii Cornborough produced a searing thirty metre break that resulted in Jess Wodden producing some crisp finishing (rather appropriately in a Tyrrells semi final) to touch down for her second try of the match and Quins appeared home and hosed.
Wasps rallied with a Waterman try on the hour mark, but the contest was over to all intents and purposes
As referee Nick Wood blew the final whistle the sun-baked Quins fans rose as one to salute their team, and the joyous scenes on the pitch provided a wonderful end to a wonderful day.
With an aggregate win of 47-26 Quins head to the final, where they will face Saracens.
Wasps, the class outfit that they are, took defeat with grace and dignity, and as the evening sun began to set, maybe it just heralded another bright new dawn for women’s rugby.