Top-flight women's rugby comes to Horsham - and so do the crowds

Rugby supporters from Sussex and Surrey arrived in droves as a crowd of 800, the largest seen at Horsham RFC in many years, came to watch the first top-flight women’s rugby match ever staged in the county.
Harlequins come out, accompanied by their Horsham mascotsHarlequins come out, accompanied by their Horsham mascots
Harlequins come out, accompanied by their Horsham mascots

Harlequins brought their fixture against Bristol Bears to Horsham as part of their efforts to build interest in the women’s game in the local community.

In a warm-up to the big event Horsham under-15 girls played Trojans from Southampton and then Harlequins Academy held a training session. Here's a picture gallery from the day.

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Former Horsham players Grace Clifford and Katie Shillaker came off the bench for Harlequins to make their senior debuts, and play alongside England star Jess Breach, who started her rugby career at Chichester and Pulborough.

But Harlequins were unable to overcome a powerful Bristol Bears side who won 31-12 in this Allianz Cup fixture.

Horsham vice-chairman and commercial manager Richard Ordidge told the West Sussex County Times: “The day has been a resounding success.

“Thank you Harlequins Women for bringing free, top-class rugby into the community which will help inspire lots of young players to take up the game.”