Anna Caplice On The record Women’s Rugby Attendance: “Whether You Want To Believe It Or Not, It Happened”

The Barbarians and Ireland star condemns online “begrudgers” who discredit the history making 29,581 Twickenham crowd last week.

Anna Caplice On The record Women’s Rugby Attendance: “Whether You Want To Believe It Or Not, It Happened” Anna Caplice On The record Women’s Rugby Attendance: “Whether You Want To Believe It Or Not, It Happened”
Alanna Cunnane

“This is what we've always wanted - the prime slot," thought back row Anna Caplice, when the possibility of their Barbarians versus South Africa match was floated to replace the Barbarians men’s match against Samoa due to six Covid 19 cases in the camp.

Having “embraced the chaos” when the green light was awarded signalling that the women’s match was in fact to be moved forward from 5:15 to 2:30 instead of the intended double header, her and the squad had to make arrangements for the “really short turnaround.”


“A bunch of us ordered Ubers and it was all hands on deck to get all equipment, management and players to Twickenham” she says.

“I was in an Uber with Laura Russell and Lindsay Peat and we asked the driver to blast the tunes. We were passing loads of spectators who were getting to their seats before the teams even arrived.”

“It was so surreal. But everyone handled it like an absolute boss.”

29,581 fans padded Twickenham to formulate the largest ever crowd at a women’s rugby match, in which the Baa-Baas emerged triumphant on a scoreline of 60-5.


Sarah Levy shone in the spotlight with three tries, with Katy Daley-Mclean, Natasha Hunt (2), Rhona Lloyd, Simi Pam and retiring duo Peat and Ciara Griffin also on the scoresheet, on a day which could only be described as an “incredible” one, concluding with the presentation of the Killik Cup.

“To be honest the reality of it didn't really hit me until afterwards” says Caplice.

“When you're in the zone for the game it feels just like any other match. Sometimes I picture myself down in Annacotty in Limerick to settle my nerves, and it was really no different to any other game where all you're thinking about is the next move or tackle.”

“I've seen a lot of begrudgers online stating that it couldn't be a record attendance because people thought that they were seeing a men's match. Well, from the players perspective, we played a game that almost 30,000 people watched” added the 32 year old.

“Whether you want to believe it or not, it happened and everyone on the team deserves to be lauded for being so adaptable and getting on their boots to entertain the droves that would have been left with no rugby to watch.”

And on her teammates’ exit?

“I really think it couldn't have been a better send off for Peats and Junior with a try each and an almost conversion for the craic.”

“It's been a tough few months for Irish rugby so to finish with smiles on their faces surrounded by legends of the game is no more than they deserve.”

From one hero to a pair of ground-breakers there’s no doubt they will be “forever bonded by this epic journey” that is the world of women’s rugby.

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