Shaunagh Brown challenged those who have previously dismissed women’s rugby after Harlequins defeated Saracens in a thrilling Premier 15s final at Kingsholm.

Quins had to hold off a late charge from the defending champions with two of their players in the sin-bin to clinch the title for the first time after finishing runners-up in 2018 and 2019.

Having lost their last two finals to Saracens, Quins took an early lead with six points for Lagi Tuima and two Amy Cokayne tries to lead 19-7 at the interval.

A Marlie Packer brace and another try from Sophie de Goede, following yellow cards for Cokayne and Abbie Ward, meant the game remained in the balance going into the final ten minutes.

But another Tuima penalty helped Quins complete a famous 25-17 victory and player of the match Brown said the occasion was bigger than the result - it was about women’s rugby.

“I’m crying, so it must mean a lot because I don’t really cry,” said Brown.

“This is not just about rugby, this is not just about the sport, it is about women and it’s about women’s sport and it’s about putting us on a platform and knowing we can do it.

“We have come out and put on an international standard of rugby in front of fans, and this is what rugby should be, week in week out, men or women’s.

“We are here and I challenge anyone to say women’s rugby is not good enough, and women are not good enough – because we are.”

Meanwhile, it was also a successful weekend for the men’s team as they defeated Bath Rugby 44-33 in a high-scoring classic to seal a first Premiership semi-final spot in seven years.

Jack Kenningham, Danny Care, Joe Marchant, Luke Northmore, Stephan Lewies and Martin Landajo all crossed for the hosts as they romped to a bonus-point success at The Stoop.

And while Harlequins defence coach Jerry Flannery was frustrated with some areas of his side’s game, he was ultimately satisfied that Quins will be contesting for end-of-season honours.

"I'm delighted that we got the result and secured top four, but it was hard work doing it,” he said. “I can't say it was overly enjoyable for me and although I'm sure supporters and neutrals loved it, I found it pretty stressful.

"There are areas of the game that we have to sharpen up if we want to push on when we get into the semis. I have to accept that Harlequins play rugby a little bit differently to what I'm used to.

“It's unconventional and I haven't been involved in a team that plays the way Harlequins do before. It's not that you let your standards slip, but there has to be a bit of give and take because the DNA of this club is attack.

“But we will not win the league if we don't tighten up in defence. The DNA of the club is to attack and to do things unconventionally. If you look at the skill set of the players and the way Harlequins recruit, that's generally what they're looking for.

"The energy and vibe is there. A Harlequins performance isn't conceding loads of points but it's playing attacking rugby. We made things hard for ourselves but it gives us stuff to work on over the next couple of weeks.”