MATCH REPORT: Wasps Ladies 62-12 Bristol Bears. A big win at Twyford Avenue
I’ve been covering women’s rugby for a couple of years now, interviewing players and attending the odd international but, until this weekend, there was a glaring hole in my coverage. I’d never been to a Allianz Premier 15s game, a combination of my availability and the looming shadow of Covid meaning that my trip to watch Wasps Ladies this week became my Premier 15s debut.
I’ve said many times that I have a real fondness for old-school rugby grounds. I love Goldington Road and the Richmond Athletic Ground to name two examples and now I’ll add Twyford Avenue to the list. The feel here is community rugby, both in the simple facilities and also the incredibly welcoming people at the club.
The rugby was excellent, but that was nothing I didn’t expect. Wasps play hugely entertaining rugby and though their dominant win over Bristol Bears Women was exactly what was expected, the fight Bristol showed, their resolute defence and never-say-die attitude, gave the impression that even in the final moments they refused to accept that the game was lost.
With the return of crowds still a couple of weeks away the audience consisted of a few reporters, a handful of photographers and some people associated with Wasps. This meant we could enjoy the opportunity to check out the view from various spots around the park, chat with folk on the sidelines and picture what a “normal” matchday might be like. It’s probably not the most fun ground in the rain, but on a sunny day with a drink in hand Twyford Avenue would be just about perfect.
As for the game itself, it started with a minute’s silence for former Wasp Rebecca Reeves. Reeves, affectionately known as Dino around the club, had played for the club for a number of years and was a big presence off the field at the club. Sadly, she succumbed to cancer last week and the way anyone I spoke to talked of her made it clear the loss will be keenly felt.
Once the match was underway Wasps quickly took the lead through Katie Mason who would go on to score another a quarter of an hour or so later and would cap off her hat-trick in the second half. Harriet Millar Mills scored a try too, playing on despite breaking her nose, and Flo Williams bagged one of her own as well as slotting conversion before the Bears scored some points of their own courtesy of Rownita Marston.
Other tries would come including a lovely worked effort from Ellie Boatman to release Kate Alder. Captain Kate scored a second with a perfectly timed intercept that saw her tear up the Twyford turf with 15 Bears and half a dozen photographers and writers in hot pursuit!
The final score of 62-12 will give Wasps huge confidence ahead of their semi-final encounter with Quins, but the takeaway for this writer was the importance of club culture. Wasps, under Giselle Mather’s watchful eye, have been lighting up the league this season but off the field they’re just as impressive. The welcome was incredibly warm for a closed game… I can’t wait to find out what a game in front of fans will be like!
A huge thanks to Holly Foskett and all at Wasps for their welcome.
Pictures courtesy of Ryan Redman. Check out @rwredmanphotography to see more!