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Premier 15s chief Belinda Moore hails ‘stand-alone’ appeal of women’s sport

By PA
Saracens Women v Exeter Chiefs Women - Allianz Premier 15s Final

Allianz Premier 15s chief executive Belinda Moore believes that women’s sport is beginning to “stand alone” as interest continues to grow.

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The RFU announced in June 2022 that up to £220m would be invested into the professional women’s game over 10 years and Moore was announced as CEO of the Premier 15s last October.

It comes as part of an exciting time of growth in women’s sport which will be seen this summer with England’s cricketers and netballers in action alongside the Lionesses, who will be aiming to build on last year’s Euro win at the World Cup.

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There has also been success in rugby as the Red Roses reached the World Cup final last November before scooping a fifth successive Six Nations title in front of a record-breaking crowd of 58,498 at Twickenham in April, and Moore insists women’s sport is now providing entertainment in its own right.

“We all know what an amazing job the Lionesses did and the growth that’s come off the back of that,” she told the PA news agency.

“One of the things they proved very eloquently was that women’s sport now is starting to stand alone.

“It’s recognised for what it is, so it’s not regarded as men’s sport – there’s a women’s brand of football, a women’s brand of rugby and they’re really entertaining games in their own right.”

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Women’s domestic rugby is set to take centre stage on Saturday when Exeter Chiefs face Gloucester-Hartpury in the Premier 15s final at the renamed “Queensholm” Stadium.

Neither team has previously won the competition and so far 8,000 tickets have been sold for the West Country clash.

“I’m hugely looking forward to Saturday, I think the two semi-finals set a really good benchmark for what we can expect this weekend,” Moore said.

“It’s been amazing to see the growth of women’s rugby, even in the short time since the World Cup last year and that crowd last year, and the crowd at Twickenham for the England-France game.

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“They’ve sold over 7,000 tickets for this match this weekend, which is a huge uptake on last year.

“The great news is we can see the interest in the sport is growing and I’m looking forward to a cracking final at Queensholm, as they’ve aptly renamed it this weekend!”

Alongside plans to grow the Premier 15s competition, England are also set to host the World Cup in 2025.

Last year’s World Cup final saw hosts New Zealand beat the Red Roses in front of 42,579 in Auckland and Moore believes a home tournament is an ideal opportunity to keep generating interest.

She said: “The number of people who got up at daft o’clock in the morning, myself included, was a really big thing.

“It was a great one, the challenge always is when you play rugby of any description down on the southern hemisphere, it’s harder to get that wider attention in a busy, crowded sports market.

“So I think what you got primarily was rugby fans, which is brilliant, but what we also want to do is expand the game out to those who maybe don’t know it so well, sports fans or more general fans of women’s sport.

“The great news is we’ve got a strong base to build on, but we definitely need to build on it and 2025 I think will be that big springboard that puts women’s rugby in people’s living rooms at primetime and starts to change that narrative.”

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