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New PWR season condensed to aid England's World Cup bid

By Martyn Thomas
GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Zoe Aldcroft (R) and Natasha Hunt co captains of Gloucester-Hartpury lift the trophy after their victory during the Women's Allianz Premier 15s Final between Gloucester-Hartpury and Exeter Chiefs at Queensholm on June 24, 2023 in Gloucester, England. Kingsholm Stadium has been rebranded as 'Queensholm' for the occasion. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The conclusion of the 2024-25 Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR) season has been brought forward by more than three months, in a move organisers said was designed to “help England win the Women’s World Cup”.

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It was confirmed on Tuesday that the new PWR campaign will get underway on Saturday, October 5th with the final scheduled for Sunday, March 16th – the day after the final round of Men’s Six Nations fixtures.

Starting the competition at the beginning of October will mean the opening rounds clash with the second edition of WXV and ensure clubs’ international players will be absent.

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However, it also means that the domestic season will be wrapped up before the 2025 Guinness Women’s Six Nations starts, allowing the England squad to focus on their title defence and home World Cup.

Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 is scheduled to get underway in Sunderland on August 22nd, with the hosts the overwhelming favourites to claim the title for a third time at Twickenham on September 27th.

“We want to do all we can to help England win the Women’s World Cup, so this season structure was agreed after a very collaborative process with the RFU,” Chief Executive of PWR, Belinda Moore said.

“Kicking off in October we can all look forward to a brilliant final which takes place 24 hours after Super Saturday in the Men’s Six Nations, creating an unmissable weekend of rugby next March.”

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More added: “In the coming season having the Women’s Six Nations after the PWR final gives the Red Roses certainly over their five-week rest period, which means they will return to club action after the Women’s World Cup.”

Organisers also announced “an innovative set of pre-season matches” – branded as the PWR Up Series – which will take place across three weekends between September 7th – 21st this year.

“With the support of all of our clubs we have decided to play a short regional competition in September, so our players and clubs are ready to go for the start of the PWR season in October,” Moore said.

“Our clubs are starting to develop close, regional rivalries and we believe this is just what our players and clubs need before the league season kicks off.”

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2 Comments
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Brian 28 days ago

I think the season goes on too long anyway and this is a good move. Intrigued by the pre-season regional competition. I also think that playing during the WXV is the right call and will give more game time to up and coming players. It may also help briefly level out the competition for the teams lower down the table. Pleased that it is recognised that the Red Roses should have every assistance to lift the RWC in a rare home tournament. It will also help the other home nations plus Canada and USA who have a number of players in the PWR.

C
Courtney 30 days ago

Interesting move by the PWR executives. I initially thought the Red Roses were showing their hand early but many of the players who will be involved in RWC 25 are also involved in the PWR and other leagues around the world are quite short anyway.

I don’t think Belinda Moore will be impressed with the misspelling of her name further in the article.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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