The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has today announced that Saracens Women have been named as one of ten clubs that that has been offered a place, subject to contract, in the new women’s domestic competition from September 2017.
Women’s Super Rugby is a major development for the women’s game in England and will significantly raise the standards of rugby domestically and help support the Red Roses’ ambition to be the number one team in the world. It is also expected to help grow participation and create new commercial partnerships to help underpin the competition.
Saracens Women have a proud heritage in the top flight domestic game, having amassed an unrivalled 12 Premiership titles, 10 Cup titles and 9 national sevens trophies since the club was established in 1989.
“We are absolutely delighted to learn that our bid was successful in a very competitive tender process which highlights how women’s rugby is becoming increasingly more popular across the country” said Saracens Women’s Club Chair Laura Eddie.
“Saracens Women have a history of success and we are looking forward to building on this with the support of the RFU. We have been working hard for a number of years to develop strong partnerships with Saracens Ltd and Middlesex University and we are all excited to enter into a new era in the women’s game. Our focus is now on delivering everything we have set out to achieve in our bid to provide a first class experience for our players and supporters.”
Following a rigorous and independently-chaired application process, the 10 successful teams that have been offered a place in the Women’s Super Rugby, subject to contract, are:
• Bristol Ladies Rugby Ltd
• Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
• Firwood Waterloo Ladies
• Harlequin FC
• Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC
• Loughborough Students (Lightning)
• Richmond FC
• Saracens Women
• Wasps FC Ladies
• Worcester Warriors RFC
All applicants will be required to deliver against a set of minimum operating standards, which are designed to create an infrastructure within the clubs to support an increasingly professional game.
The key focus of these minimum standards include:
• To develop a professional coaching resource to support players in training throughout the week
• To provide teams with regular and expert sports science support and medical provision for both training and match-days
• To improve the training and playing environment.
The competition will receive a multi-million pound investment from the RFU over the next three years to help deliver the minimum standards expected and provide high-quality coaching, facilities, training environments and community engagement plans.
The announcement reflects the increasing popularity and success of women’s rugby in England following the Red Roses’ success of winning the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014 and Great Britain playing in the first sevens competition of the Olympic Games last year in Rio.
This season has seen the RFU announce its ambitions to double the number of women and girls playing rugby to 50,000 and the arrival of 15-a-side professional contracts ahead of eagerly anticipated Women’s Rugby World Cup in August this year.
RFU Director of Professional Rugby Nigel Melville said: “This is another significant development for women’s rugby in this country. Women’s Super Rugby will drive standards in the game, both domestically and at an elite level, and continue to encourage more women and girls to play the sport.
“I would like to congratulate the 10 clubs on their successful applications which have resulted in them being offered a place in the new competition. We now have the opportunity to build a world-class domestic competition, with the backing and funding of the RFU, demonstrating the union’s commitment to growing the game at all levels.”
RFU Head of Women’s Performance Nicky Ponsford added: “We are really excited about the innovative opportunity that Women’s Super Rugby gives us to reach new participants and attract new fans to the game, and we are determined to make the most of this opportunity.”