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RFU plan £220m investment in ten-year Premier 15s strategy

By Sam Smith
WORCESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Saracens celebrate after their victory during the Allianz Premier 15's Final between Saracens Women and Exeter Women at Sixways Stadium on June 03, 2022 in Worcester, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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The RFU have announced today a ten-year strategy to turn the Premier 15s into “the most competitive, progressive and sustainable domestic competition in the world.”

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The objective is to help grow and develop the women’s game in England from grassroots level to the Red Roses.

The priority of the RFU’s is to create a new company that will have its own Chief Executive that will report to an independent Board of Directors. The Chief Executive will run the league and will employ other executives in key positions. This will be in place from the 2023/24 season onwards.

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In terms of investment, the RFU outlined in their plan that “the overall cost of the league will total £222m over a ten year period, with projected revenues expected to be £174m. From 2023/24 the RFU and clubs will invest the remaining £48m.” This will help make the league the first fully professional club rugby competition in the women’s game.

The initial plan is for the league to consist of ten teams, just like the current Allianz Premier 15s, with the aim of expanding the competition over the coming years.

The eight objectives of the new league, according to the RFU’s strategy, are:

“1. Become the first professional women’s club rugby league across all aspects of the game

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2. Improve the overall quality of play and produce sufficient world class talent for the Red Roses by investing in high quality training environments and prioritising player welfare

3. Be part of a coherent player pathway from grassroots through to elite competition across England

4. Increase commercial revenue to drive long-term financial sustainability of the league

5. Grow audience engagement through both live and digital products, reaching new fans and deepening relations with the existing audience

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6. Lead the way in rugby by aligning with the international calendar and by creating a high-quality, innovative product

7. Develop and retain a world-class workforce of players, coaches, officials and operational staff

8. Collaborate with the rugby community to drive the growth of the women and girls game across England”

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.”

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