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Leanne Riley: ‘I hope in two years women’s rugby will be fully professional’

Harlequins Ladies take on Gloucester-Hartpury at the Stoop on Saturday and hopes are high for a record attendance at a women’s domestic match

Leanne Riley does not look at Twitter too much, she says. Which is why one of her posts sticks out; it is a link to a picture of her England No 9 shirt neatly folded on a bed the day of their Six Nations match against France in February. Lying on the shirt is a picture of a steely-haired man slightly awkwardly but determinedly cradling a newborn. Alongside it, Riley wrote: “This one’s for you Grandad.”

The 25-year-old’s granddad, Derek, had always wanted to watch her play live for England but ill health and distance meant he had followed every match on Sky instead. Then, last December, he asked Riley’s father if he would pick him up “on the way” to Doncaster for the key game against France on 10 February. He never got the chance. “He passed away at the start of the year,” Riley says.

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