We are just days away from the start of a new era of Women’s rugby, as the 2023/24 Premiership Women’s Rugby kicks off this weekend. Rebranded from the ‘Premier 15s’, the competition will feature nine clubs from across the country, including a brand new team set for their debut season.
The competition was set to feature 10 sides, however the unfortunate collapse of Worcester Warriors Women has led to the side being withdrawn. Ealing Trailfinders Women are the newest side in the competition, and have been steadily piecing together a confident squad for their first season.
Beginning with the appointment of Director of Women’s Rugby Giselle Mather, the former Wasps Women Head Coach took the side to Premiership titles in 2003 and 2004. The Trailfinders followed this up with the signing of England winger Abby Dow, in a high profile move from Harlequins.
As well as Dow, Ealing have reinforced their ranks with some of the most promising talents from across the country. England U18s duo Annabel Meta and Lauren Knowler join the fray, as they pursue a career with the Red Roses. The reigning champions heading into the 2023/24 season are Gloucester-Hartpury, who won their first league title in their 34-19 victory over Exeter Chiefs Women.
The stars of the Red Roses will be out in full force, after England won the first-ever WXV1 global competition earlier this month. England recorded victories over Australia, Canada and the Black Ferns, to win the inurgural tournament in New Zealand. England Captain Marlie Packer also won the World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year Award, and will be back with her Saracens club, to usher in a new era at the StoneX Stadium.
In a move to boost the reach and viewership of Premiership Women’s Rugby, one match per weekend will be televised live on TNT Sports. More than 20 matches will be aired live on the channel, that is also the current home of men’s Premiership Rugby, Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup.
Belinda Moore, Chief Executive of Premiership Women’s Rugby said to England Rugby: “This is a pivotal moment in the history of women’s club rugby in England, as we will see at least 21 Premiership Women’s Rugby matches broadcast live on TNT Sports and discovery+ this season.
“For the first time, this ground-breaking partnership with TNT Sports will allow us to create an appointment to view each weekend for our fans and clubs, fundamentally changing the profile of the league. Research from the Women’s Sports Trust shows there are 1.5 million committed women’s rugby fans in the UK, which shows the potential of this partnership.
“We know the standard of rugby played in Premiership Women’s Rugby is exceptional and over the coming season, a huge number of people will enjoy their first taste of the League, to share our passion for the competition.”
The first match of the 2023/24 Premiership Women’s Rugby season to air on TNT Sports, will be Bristol Bears Women vs Sale Sharks Women on Saturday November 18th. Here are the fixtures for the opening round of action in the competition, with Gloucester-Hartpury handed a bye week for Round One.
Saturday November 18th
Bristol Bears vs Sale Sharks – 12:30pm / Ashton Gate
Saracens Women vs Loughborough Lightning – 14:30 / Stone X Stadium
Trailfinders Women vs Harlequins Women – 15:00 / Trailfinders Sports Club
Sunday November 19th
Leicester Tigers vs Exeter Chiefs – 15:00 / Mattioli Woods Welford Road