The women’s Premier 15s returns after an eight month lay off. This time, with a new sponsor and four new teams joining the league. The Allianz Premier 15s kicks off this weekend, on Saturday the 10th October and you don’t want to miss it.
The RFU announced this week that Allianz will become the official insurance partner of England Rugby. Allianz Insurance will be the the new title partner for the Premier 15s, with top-flight women’s rugby to return this Saturday.
It’ll be played over 18 rounds and will provide competitive game time ahead of the women’s Autumn internationals that begin next month. They will also be investing into the grassroots Inner Warrior programme to grow women and girls’ rugby in England.
Now, more than ever, is the time to invest into grassroots and the future of women’s rugby. It’s a very exciting time to be a rugby fan. The new programme will consist of rugby fitness training camps that are run by clubs across the UK. Since it began three years ago, just under 20,000 women across the country have taken part in Inner Warrior camps.
New laws and regulations
As the new season begins, there have been some new laws and regulations put in place to reduce in game face-to-face contact along with a number of medical and monitoring requirements to reduce potential transmission risks and to allow the competition to start without weekly testing. The RFU undertook a detailed risk analysis which showed that compared to the men’s game there was a higher frequency of scrums, but a lower frequency of high or smother tackles in the women’s game.
A risk mitigation strategy has been agreed for the Allianz Premier 15s, which is different to the men’s premiership. The women will not be tested as often as the men which was decided based on different on-field-risks and also taking into consideration the practicalities of weekly testing among the players with careers outside of rugby. It would present challenges in terms of self-isolating as a result of false positives.
There will be a reduction to the number of scrums and mauls on the pitch which should increase the speed of the game and the match time will be reduced to 35 minutes each way to support player welfare and to mitigate risk. The two main laws that stand out are:
- Play advantage from a knock-on – reducing scrums by over 75%
- Strict social distancing while ball is out of play, including set water breaks, named bottles, limited face-to-face warm-up
The new laws will be in place for the first nine rounds. They will be reviewed mid season to see whether they continue with the adapted measures or return to standard laws.
Players to watch this season:
At the age of just 21, Ellie has a lot of experience under her belt. Ellie will be playing for Wasps Ladies this season having played rugby 7s for the last two years. Kildunne previously played for Gloucester-Hartpury Women in the Premier 15s. She made a try-scoring debut for the Red Roses at the age of just 18 against USA in November 2017. Her scintillating footwork and pace out wide will add a great deal to the Wasps team and she’s chomping at the bit to return to fifteens.
Two weeks ago, the talented fly half signed a new deal with Saracens. Harrison is really hoping she can add another trophy to the cabinet when the competition begins this weekend. Harrison was instrumental in the 2019 final against Harlequins Women scoring 18 points at Franklin’s Gardens. Harrison made her England debut in 2017 and has earned 24 caps which included helping the Roses to a 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam. At only 22, she reads the game so well and is a fantastic all – round player. Her kicks from hand are sublime and the hits are hard.
The Saracens and Red Roses Prop has been playing rugby from the age of 4. Botterman made her debut for Saracens when she was 18 during the 2017/18 season. Her remarkable and standout performance for Saracens that season earned her a Red Roses debut in the Test series against Canada. Like Harrison, Botterman also played in the Tyrell’s Premiership final for Saracens and had a superb game.
Botterman was integral that day and brought that form the following season with some fearless performances for both club and country. The Red Rose played a hugely important role in both the Premier 15s title win and Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam.
The 22-year-old has the potential to become world class in the near future. Her offloads are tremendous and she’s unstoppable when given the ball out wide. As the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup looms, Hannah will be desperate to impress again this season.
You can stream the first four rounds of the Allianz Premier 15s on the England Rugby and Premier 15s channels, the first game beginning at 2.00pm Saturday as last years Champions take on Warriors Women.
“Main photo credit”