Outcome of Premier15s Tender Process
The RFU has today confirmed that eight clubs have been selected via the tender process and offered a place in the Allianz Premier 15s competition from the 2023-24 season, subject to the signing of shareholder and other agreements.
The clubs selected at this stage, following a competitive tender process which saw strong proposals submitted, are:
- Bristol Bears Women
- Ealing Trailfinders Women
- Exeter Rugby Club
- Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC
- Harlequins FC
- Leicester Tigers
- Loughborough Lightning/Northampton Saints
The league has capacity for ten teams and while a number of clubs have not been selected to enter at this stage, there is potential for clubs to join the league at a later stage. The RFU and Women’s Premier 15 Ltd (WP15) will continue to work with these clubs on their potential to participate in the league. The selection panel also made a strong recommendation for the RFU and WP15 to explore how greater geographical spread can be provided in the league. This process will begin in January when discussions with clubs and institutions will take place and will form part of the RFU’s wider review of the women’s competition structure in England. The RFU, as part of the women’s competition review, has been working for the past six months to develop a solution for those clubs that have not been offered a place at this stage and those that wish to join Premier 15s in the future, now it knows who has been impacted it will move forward with the final stage of that work. The RFU will be working with clubs to consult on and discuss options in the New Year. Clubs that have not been offered a place in next season’s Allianz Premier 15s can appeal and this process will aim to conclude by the end of February. Charlie Hayter, RFU Women’s Rugby Performance Manager, said: “This process is part of the 10-year strategy for the Premier 15s which aims to build on the current league’s success and continue to push the league forward as the most competitive, progressive and sustainable in the world. We want to create a league which inspires both players, and fans, and continues to develop talented athletes at the elite level. “This will happen concurrently with work on the wider women and girl’s plan to accelerate the growth of the women’s game in this country.”
Speaking after confirmation that Saracens will be part of the league next season, Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry paid tribute to the work that had gone on behind the scenes at the club.
"These are exciting times for the club and the game. It's fantastic news that we have been selected and is a great credit to the immense work that has gone on to get us to this point. It is far too easy to take some wins for granted but years and years of work have gone in to this. I would like to say thank you to all those involved for their efforts and thank you to all the staff across all the departments at Saracens, who helped pull this together. I have no doubt they will all go above and beyond again as we move into a new and exciting period for women's rugby."
Austerberry's comments were echoed by Saracens Group CEO Lucy Wray.
"We are incredibly proud to be part of an exciting future for women’s rugby. At Saracens, we have tried to always be at the forefront of women’s sport and push ourselves to set the standards. It will be very special for the club to be part of this journey with our amazing players, coaches, staff, partners and supporters."