There will be a new name on the Allianz Premier 15s trophy on Saturday afternoon when Gloucester-Hartpury and Exeter Chiefs face off at Kingsholm.
After two gripping semi-finals, this weekend's finale in the West Country should bring the curtain down on a brilliant season in the top-flight but an exciting 2023-24 campaign is also starting to slowly take shape.
The introduction of Ealing Trailfinders and Leicester Tigers to the AP15s will certainly add a new dimension to the league, especially given the recruitment both clubs have already been able to do.
In terms of Giselle Mather's Ealing, the acquisition of star names such as Abby Dow certainly caught the eye while over in the Midlands, it was announced last month that Megan Jones had joined Leicester Tigers Women ahead of next season.
The 26-year-old joins Tigers from Wasps, having also previously represented Bristol Bears in the Premier 15s.
"Leicester holds a lot of prestige and it is a massive rugby community," Jones tells TRU. "I’m so excited to get going and the prospect of being something far greater than what it is now is what I’m looking forward to - I’m excited to help build its legacy.
"I’m really looking forward to getting back into the Premiership again. Obviously, I was with Wasps originally so getting back into the mix in the Prem and playing some rugby will be great fun. There's a huge history behind the club and I think I’m just looking forward to being a small cog in that team and hopefully, we can do some special things and start creating some memories."
As mentioned, Head Coach Vicky Macqueen has been busy recruiting other international players to help bolster her squad. England hooker Amy Cokayne, Scotland prop Leah Bartlett and also Team GB 7s star Celia Quansah (Jones' partner) have been announced so far.
“It’s massive, you’ve got Amy Cokayne and Leah Bartlett from Scotland which are huge signings but also the current talent they have there is just brilliant too," Jones adds. "Tash Jones in the centre was great last season [in Championship North 1]. I can’t wait to get going. It’s going to be fantastic."
Over the last few years, Jones has performed not only in the 15-a-side game but also across the Sevens circuit, including times when she has swapped the Red Rose for the Lion of Great Britain, whom she has represented at the Olympic Games.
Jones is now hoping to continue balancing both her 7s and 15s career whilst playing at Leicester: “My main aim is to go to the Olympics in 2024," she says, with Great Britain looking to confirm their qualification at the end of this month.
"To be completely candid, my main aim is to go to Paris, and then I want to try and come back for the home World Cup in 2025. They’re my career aims and something I’m going to try and fight for.
"I’ll do everything I possibly can to get me there. I’ve got a big focus on GB and being at Leicester as and when I can will help facilitate my playing and being at training as much as I can as and when it fits around the GB programme.
"It’s communication with the coaches as to when I can play but the aim is to do both. I want to play lots of rugby, enjoy myself, and smile lots. That’s all I want to do, There’s nothing too crazy about it! That’s the aim and we’ll see how we get on as plans change as well."
Although she was born in Wales, Jones qualified for both the country of her birth and England due to her having a Welsh father and an English mother but she chose to represent the Red Roses and currently has 12 caps to her name.
Her highlights on the international stage include scoring in the 2017 World Cup semi-final win over France and Jones still has aspirations to pull on the England jersey in the future: “It’s not off the cards. With a new coaching staff and I guess a new idea of pushing things forward, I’d love to be part of that legacy as well and that journey so definitely, I would love to."
Leicester Tigers' ‘new era' is ready for its latest instalment...in the form of its brand new women's team.— Talking Rugby Union (@TalkRugbyUnion) September 17, 2022
??? “We’ve come so far in such a short space of time..."
?? @_ElizabethC99_ chats to Head of Women's Rugby Vicky Macqueen.https://t.co/9fcPFYLZ96 pic.twitter.com/PPKJOc1ksd
Being 'part of a legacy' applies to both Jones' club and international aspirations. As highlighted before, Leicester will not be the only new kids on the block in the 2023-24 season with Ealing also joining the party and she believes both teams can really make a mark on the league.
“It's anyone’s to write," she adds." I think that’s the beauty of it. Going down to less teams and changing it up a little bit is always good. You’ve got a new brand, new faces coming into the league and I think that’s really important for the development of women’s rugby.
"The prospect of both those teams coming in is wonderful. I know Giselle [Ealing's head coach] from Wasps is making big moves over there, it’s amazing to see and I’m looking forward to working and seeing the game push forward. It’s growing pretty rapidly and I reckon there’s going to be some raised eyebrows next season for sure."
Jones starts her pre-season training next month with Leicester Tigers and league games begin in September. It’s clear to see she is relishing the opportunity to play XVs rugby again.
Will she be a key playmaker to Leicester’s success when they make their bow in the Premiership? Fans have still got a few more months to wait and see.