Saracens women lift title

Saracens lift the trophy at Allianz Park
Saracens lift the trophy at Allianz Park

Saracens seal Premiership victory in pivotal year for women’s rugby

Saracens Women won the Premiership on Sunday, their first title since 2009. Last season the North London squad missed out on the title by one league point behind Richmond Women.

“It was fantastic for the girls,” said Saracens Women’s Head Coach Rob Cain, who joined the squad at the start of the 2014/15 season. “Last year they came very close and in previous years they fought really hard, so the girls had all those memories to fall back on.

“For me personally it was great; it was great to see the girls so happy after we won. I think it was a sense of relief if I’m honest, it was getting quite tight in the last couple of weeks of the season.”

Led by World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi, Saracens scored six tries to beat Wasps Ladies 30-0 at Allianz Park in their final league game. In their first meeting of the season, Saracens had narrowly won 19-22 in a tight away game where Wasps scored the opening try in a matter of minutes.

“I’m really pleased,” Alphonsi said. “We worked ages to get to that point, it was brilliant.

“That was potentially going to be my last game for the club,” the 31-year-old flanker said, having decided to retire from rugby and turn her attention to athletics. “I wasn’t going to let that last shift at the club be a poor game.”

The women’s game has grown significantly since England Women sealed the World Cup victory last summer after being runners-up for three consecutive tournaments.

“[The World Cup] really brought women’s rugby to the forefront,” said Cain. “For ourselves, we’re now playing and training at Allianz Park and using the wonderful facilities, we’re getting more crowds coming down to watch our games, and at grassroots level everyone’s working really hard to introduce rugby to the new superstars.

“As a club, it’s been great that we’ve actually developed a lot of players this year. We’ve had a good balance with a lot of girls getting opportunities at first team level, so that’s been fantastic to see as well as winning the title.”

This development is seen across the Women’s Premiership, as Alphonsi commented: “The standard has improved and you have more competitive games now. Back in the day when I first started playing rugby there’d be two or three teams who’d always be in the running for winning the Premiership. Now you’ve got quite a few teams with chances of winning.”