"16th Player" Red Roses Stars Celebrate Record Women's Rugby Crowd At Grand Slam Triumph - Ruck

“16th Player” Red Roses Stars Celebrate Record Women’s Rugby Crowd At Grand Slam Triumph

The 2023 Women’s Six Nations was decided last weekend, as England and France put on a certified classic for the Grand Slam at Twickenham Stadium. The Red Roses secured an incredible 38-33 victory, despite the best efforts of France who fought back from a 33-0 half time deficit.

Marlie Packer, Captain of England Women lifts the Womens Six Nations Trophy during the TikTok Womens Six Nations Match between England Women and France Women at Twickenham, London on 29 April 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

The landmark occasion saw the attendance record broken for a Women’s rugby match, as 58,498 fans packed themselves into Twickenham for ‘Le Crunch’. England retained their Six Nations’ Grand Slam, and secured an amazing fifth consecutive title, with the record number of fans playing a crucial part as the ’16th player’.

The Red Roses stars spoke after the match, about how incredible the crowd was on the day. England Captain Marlie Packer believed that she and her teammates had never played in front of such motivating support.

Try Celebrations for Marlie Packer, Captain of England Women during the TikTok Womens Six Nations Match between England Women and France Women at Twickenham, London on 29 April 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“I can’t put into words how good that was. Absolutely amazing. I think from the bus journey into Twickenham today, that was a pinch yourself moment. There were fans all along the streets, and it was just a very special occasion from start to finish.”

“You always want for that (record-breaking crowd). At the beginning of the tournament you can see the sales going up and up, and we had kept getting updated with how many tickets had been sold. As a person and as a Red Rose, I want to sell out Twickenham, I believe we can do it and I believe we can do it before 2025 and that Rugby World Cup final. Look at today, 58,000 people and we weren’t no curtain raiser, it was all about us.”

A world record attendance for a womens game is announced as 58,498 during the TikTok Womens Six Nations Match between England Women and France Women at Twickenham, London on 29 April 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“We fed off the crowd all day today. The crowd today was just so positive, it was right behind us every step of the way. Occasionally you’d look up and they’d be doing the Mexican wave, or just signing ‘Swing Low’. I don’t think any of us have ever played in front of a crowd like that before, and I’ve been knocking around a little while now.

“It was very, very special. Playing in front of the crowd in (last year’s) Rugby World Cup Final, was really special in itself, but this was just a whole other level, and I can’t thank the crowd enough for being our 16th man today.”

Helena Rowland made her return to the Red Roses against Ireland, in a cameo substitution in the 48-0 shut out win. However, Rowland had a starring role at Twickenham, and was delighted to have been apart of the history making event. England’s all-rounding back was compelled by the support, and believes that this can lead to increased attendance at the Premier 15s league matches.

Helena Rowland of England Women kicks the conversion during the TikTok Womens Six Nations Match between England Women and France Women at Twickenham, London on 29 April 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“I think we are all pretty chuffed with that. Possibly not the final score that we thought given the first half, but to come out as Grand Slam champions in front of that crowd, on that pitch, you can’t really ask for much more.

“It was unbelievable. It had been talked about in the week, in terms of the numbers that were going to be there, but untill you’re there and you experience it, you can’t prepare yourself for it.

Helena Rowland of England Women arrives for the TikTok Womens Six Nations match between England Women and Wales Women at Kingsholm Stadium on April 9 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“It was just unbelievable, we could hear the crowd constantly, and I think it really picked us up at times. Particularly, with a little bit of a slow start in the first half. But just having the crowd behind us really helped us through.”

“None of us were expecting that on the bus. I was sat next to Alex Matthews, who was getting a little bit emotional. Just seeing all the numbers come piling out of the pubs, down the streets and stuff. It was unbelievable, I don’t think any of us saw that coming. It was just great to see so many people, and you could see all of us on the bus, we were smiling, we were waving back. This is so new to all of us, but it was amazing, it’s been such a good day.”

Helena Rowland of England Women on the break during the TikTok Womens Six Nations match between England Women and Wales Women at Kingsholm Stadium on April 9 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“I hope that is the next thing (big crowds at Premier 15s matches). We have proved that there is an apatite for Women’s rugby, and hopefully that will be evident in the club game. All of these players are playing week in, week out, plus other internationals. It’s a really competitive league, and hopefully we can get some bigger numbers down.”

England prop Hannah Botterman agreed with her captain, in how the England fans embodied an extra player against France. The 23 year-old also believes that England can sell-out Twickenham Stadium before too long, and she is calling for more Red Roses fixtures to be held at ‘HQ’.

Hannah Botterman of England Women lifts the Womens Six Nations Trophy during the TikTok Womens Six Nations Match between England Women and France Women at Twickenham, London on 29 April 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“It is incredible. They just give you that extra man that you need, that 16th man sort of thing. Obviously, having everyone here was just incredible, and well we won so really good.”

“The RFU didn’t expect to get nearly 60,000 here, I think we nearly doubled what they expected.”

“We just want to keep the fans happy, keep them coming in, and keep people flooding these stadiums. Because it really does give us a boost, and it was mental, honestly it was so good.”

Hannah Botterman of England Women during the TikTok Womens Six Nations Match between England Women and France Women at Twickenham, London on 29 April 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“We really enjoy being here, we want all of our fixtures to be here (Twickenham), but we understand that it might not be feasible. There’s a certain amount of tickets that we have to sell to actually make it worth coming here. I think the aim going forward is to play all games here, after the success of today, hopefully we can get another one in for the Six Nations, and get two big crowds in. Just keep building up until that World Cup, and hopefully we can sell it out.”