Jane Leonard believes the exhibition match between Premiership Storm and Premiership Thunder at the World Club 7s showed women’s rugby at its best in front of Twickenham.
Leonard captained the Storm side at Rugby HQ and scored the winning try off the final play of the game as her side came from 15-5 down to triumph 17-15.
The two sides were made up of players from all of the Women’s Premiership clubs and Leonard hopes the game will now become a fixture in the World Club 7s schedule.
“It was absolutely amazing to be a part of the event and I hope the spectators at Twickenham will now look at women’s rugby in a different way,” Leonard said.
“I can’t remember the last time there was something live like this with women amalgamated with men. This was a massive occasion for us and I hope a lot of people have taken something and don’t see us as some of the stereotypes that are around – I hope we’ve changed them a little bit.
“This is the first time something like this has happened at the World Club 7s and I said to the girls that hopefully we have made history and this can carry on throughout the years.
“I think it can only get bigger and bigger as we’ve set the scene and more and more girls will be interested. 7s is great to be a part of at the moment with the Olympics coming up as well so hopefully this has increased the popularity in the women’s game.
“We had players from every Women’s Premiership side which was so good. It’s good to see all the teams joining together for something that is hopefully only going to benefit us.”
Premiership Thunder captain Sarah Mitchelson echoed the view of her counterpart, insisting that the event was more important than the overall result.
And with the game taking place on the same day that England clinched the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Mitchelson believes they have shown how far women’s rugby has progressed.
“It’s gutting to lose but it was a really good game and it was a good show for women’s rugby,” she said.
“To get the chance to play during an international tournament like the World Club 7s was a massive thing for us and a massive thing for women’s rugby. It meant so much to us that we could get the chance to play on England’s home turf so it was a great experience.
“Getting the chance to play at Twickenham on the same day England were playing in the Women’s Rugby World Cup final shows how big and how much women’s rugby has come along since it started.
“I hope this exhibition match can be a massive boost for the sport and hopefully bring some more money, sponsorship and spectators into the sport.”