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What to watch in women's rugby: PWR final, Olympic repechage

By Martyn Thomas
EXETER, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Abbie Ward of Bristol Bears and Natasha Hunt of Gloucester Hartpury looks on during the Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby Final media day at Sandy Park on June 14, 2024 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

All eyes will be on Exeter and Monaco this weekend as the races for both the Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR) title and Paris 2024 qualification reach their conclusion.

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Sandy Park will open its doors for the eagerly anticipated PWR final on Saturday with Bristol Bears standing between Gloucester-Hartpury and a second successive title.

By then, the World Rugby Sevens Repechage will be well underway at Stade Louis II, where 11 teams are chasing the final ticket to the women’s sevens tournament at next month’s Olympic Games.

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Abbie Ward: Bump in the Road | trailer

Bump in the Road explores the challenges faced by professional female athletes and all working mothers, featuring England lock, Abbie Ward. Watch the full documentary on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

Video Spacer

Abbie Ward: Bump in the Road | trailer

Bump in the Road explores the challenges faced by professional female athletes and all working mothers, featuring England lock, Abbie Ward. Watch the full documentary on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

You don’t have to miss any of the action from Devon or Monte Carlo as both events are available to stream live and for free on RugbyPass TV.

Mouth-watering final awaits in Exeter

Following seven months and 19 rounds, the 2023-24 PWR season will draw to a close at Sandy Park on Sunday as reigning champions Gloucester-Hartpury put their title on the line in a blockbuster final against Bristol Bears.

Gloucester-Hartpury were in ruthless form in the semi-finals, running in eight tries to beat Exeter Chiefs 50-19 at Kingsholm and book their place in the showpiece match.

Having lost only one match during the regular season – away at Saracens on the penultimate weekend – and finished 18 points clear of third-placed Bears at the top of the standings, the Circus will start the final as favourites.

But Sean Lynn’s side know they cannot discount the Bears, who ran them close home and away this season and created history in beating Saracens in the last four.

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Fixture
England Premier 15s
Gloucester-Hartpury Women RFC
36 - 24
Full-time
Bristol Bears Women
All Stats and Data

The Bears became the first lower-seeded team to win a semi-final since the English top-flight was rebranded in 2017 as they came from 14-0 down to beat Saracens 29-21 at StoneX Stadium a fortnight ago.

Dave Ward and his players have earned a reputation as the PWR’s great entertainers and with Holly Aitchison and Amber Reed pulling the strings in an exciting backline, and Abbie Ward, Alisha Joyce-Butchers and Hannah Botterman adding punch up front, you can see why.

Gloucester-Hartpury – who possess the league’s top points scorer in Emma Sing – believe their play has evolved this season, which is a frightening prospect for any opponent.

Last season’s final against Chiefs at Queensholm turned on a three-try 10-minute blitz either side of half-time but if the past few weeks have shown us anything it’s that the Bears don’t know when they are beaten.

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Whoever comes out on top in Devon on Saturday will cap an incredible season, Gloucester-Hartpury confirming their dominance with back-to-back titles or Bristol creating yet more history as champions from outside of the top two.

It promises to be a match not to be missed and you can stream it live and for free on RugbyPass TV, except in the UK, Ireland, Canada and USA, where there is a local broadcast deal in place.

Saturday, June 22nd

15:00 BST (GMT+1) – Gloucester-Hartpury v Bristol Bears, Sandy Park – WATCH LIVE HERE

Winner takes all in Monaco

Eleven teams have arrived in Monaco hoping to secure the 12th and final ticket to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

China will start the World Rugby Sevens Repechage at Stade Louis II on Friday as favourites given their electric form so far this year.

The Chinese – whose coaching group contains rugby sevens royalty in the shape of high-performance consultant Sir Gordon Tietjens – blitzed through the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger, winning 17 of 18 matches and all three tournaments to secure their place at the HSBC SVNS Play-off in Madrid.

In the Spanish capital China then won all four of their matches to reclaim core status in the world series for the 2025 season.

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The team stayed in Spain to prepare for this weekend’s tournament, and they will hope to return home with a ticket to Paris 2024 safely stowed in their hand luggage.

But they also know that form counts for little in sevens and with matches against Mexico, Poland and Czechia to come in Pool C in Monaco, their Olympic dream is always only one bad result from being scuppered.

Argentina, who finished the Sevens Challenger in second, and Kenya are the form teams in Pool A, while Uganda, Hong Kong China, Paraguay and Jamaica will all hope to make it out of Pool B.

The top two teams in each of the three pools at the end of the pool stage will qualify for the Cup quarter-finals along with the two best third-place finishers. From there it will be a straight shootout for the title and a place at Paris 2024.

You can stream all three days of action live and for free worldwide on RugbyPass TV.

Friday, June 21st

12:00 BST (GMT+1) – World Rugby Sevens Repechage, Stade Louis II – WATCH LIVE HERE

Saturday, June 22nd

09:00 BST (GMT+1) – World Rugby Sevens Repechage, Stade Louis II – WATCH LIVE HERE

Sunday, June 23rd

08:30 BST (GMT+1) – World Rugby Sevens Repechage, Stade Louis II – WATCH LIVE HERE

Watch Bump in the Road

Speaking ahead of the PWR final, Bristol Bears and England second-row Abbie Ward suggested winning the title would be an incredible way to end a “rollercoaster” year.

Twelve months ago, Ward was expecting her first child and was unsure about how long it would take her to get back onto the pitch.

Remarkably, she returned to the Bears line-up just 17 weeks after daughter Hallie was born and she has been an integral part of the team that has made it all the way to the Sandy Park showpiece.

Ward told the PWR website: “If you had said to me this time last year, I hadn’t even had Hallie, my daughter, yet, that next year you would be playing in a Prem final, I’d have said no way.

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“But it’s testament to the support I’ve had around me, the way the girls have backed me, the staff, Dave (Ward, her husband and Bristol Bears coach), the whole team, the medical team, the S&C team, how I have been able to come back into the squad and build and grow throughout the year.

“Any year would be phenomenal to get to this point, but this year, it’s been such a rollercoaster, such a blur but it would be the icing on the cake.

“Hallie will be there. The plan is for her to walk out with me, which will be a really nice way to round out the season.”

You can go behind the scenes of Ward’s journey through pregnancy, childbirth and back onto the rugby pitch thanks to the ground-breaking documentary Abbie Ward: Bump in the Road.

Watch Bump in the Road HERE

The Women's Rugby World Cup 2025 is coming to England. Register now here to be the first to hear about tickets.

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