RFU announce ten year strategy for Premier 15s

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced an ambitious ten-year strategy to professionalise the Premier 15s.

  • Ambition to transform the league into the most competitive, progressive and sustainable domestic competition in the world 
  • New operating company to be established to operate the league from 23/24 season 
  • Up to £220m investment in the professional women’s game over ten years 
  • Applications to be part of the 10-team league open later this year   
  • The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced an ambitious ten-year strategy to professionalise the Premier 15s

Following an extensive consultation with players, clubs and the wider game, a working group with representation from across the game together has co-designed and co-created the ten-year strategy as the first jointly developed cycle for the Premier 15s league. The strategy aims to accelerate the growth of the league and inspire a generation of fans and players through world-class competition.
A key element of the strategy will be to establish a new company with its own Chief Executive to run the league. In time the company will employ executives in key positions to support the overall running and governance of the competition. The Chief Executive will report to a new, independent Board of Directors.
Players are at the heart of the latest iteration of Allianz Premier 15s, with the league aligned to the global calendar to ensure no overlap between the domestic and international games. There will be an increase in the Minimum Operating Standards across the performance environment within medical provision, strength & conditioning, and coaching, as well as developing the off-pitch product including improvements in stadia, match-day experience and investing in broader marketing campaigns.
Initially the league will be comprised of up to ten teams, with the intention to expand in a timely and sustainable way. Until such time a mechanism will be introduced to support aspiring teams.
The Expression of Interest for all clubs opens today with a formal application process being launched later in the year.
Sue Day, RFU Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer commented: “We’re extremely excited about the next iteration of the Premier 15s, which has been developed as part of a collaboration with Allianz Premier 15s Clubs, Premiership clubs and the RFU.
“Our collective intention is to create a league which will be the leading domestic league in the world and will ultimately be the first professional women’s domestic league globally.
“We have worked hard to devise a ten-year strategy which will serve to deliver a financially sustainable league, whilst simultaneously accelerating the growth of the women’s game in this country to provide further opportunities for players of all abilities. We want to create a league which inspires both players and fans and continues to drive competition and provide talent for the Red Roses.
“We also recognise our wider purpose within society and therefore the league will go beyond purely being a platform for elite women’s rugby matches in order to influence positive change in key areas.
“The first two cycles of the Allianz Premier 15s competition to date have been hugely successful, providing great drama and competition on the pitch as well as producing a wide pool of talent for the Red Roses, which has resulted in one of our most successful international periods. Elite women’s rugby has never been stronger and so now is the time to capitalise and make significant change so we can continue to make strides in the game to ensure its future is secured.”
Lucy Wray, Saracens Chief Executive Officer and club representative on Premier 15s working group said: “I have loved being part of the working group on this project as I am hugely passionate about women’s sport. The standard of play has risen to new heights over the past two years and fans are seeing what fantastic entertainment women’s rugby represents.

“This generation of players are all part of something very special, a massive turning point for the women’s game where people sit up and take notice. Incredible role models for a future generation and they are paving the way for a seismic shift in the journey towards professionalism. The league being operated as an independent entity with dedicated resource is a massive step forward in giving the women’s club game the attention it deserves.

“I am hugely excited about the future and it has been a brilliant example of collaboration between Premiership clubs, The RFU and the clubs to come together and only think about what is best for the women’s game.”

Simon Massie-Taylor, Premiership Rugby Chief Executive added: "This is a really important step for club rugby and our clubs are delighted to partner with the RFU to grow the Premier 15s into the most competitive, progressive, and sustainable women’s competition in the world.

“We believe the best solution for women’s rugby is a partnership between the participating clubs and the RFU. We currently have eight Premiership Rugby clubs playing in the Allianz Premier 15s and I would expect more to apply in the next phase given the high level of interest to invest in the future of the women’s game.”