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Women’s Rugby

Lightning offered place in next cycle of Allianz Premier 15s

Northampton Saints are delighted to confirm that the Club’s women’s team, Loughborough Lightning, have been offered a place in the next cycle of the Allianz Premier 15s competition from the 2023-24 season.

Eight clubs have been selected by the RFU via a competitive tender process which saw strong proposals submitted from a range of teams. Bristol Bears, Ealing Trailfinders, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester-Hartpury, Harlequins, Leicester Tigers, and Saracens are the other successful clubs so far, in addition to Loughborough Lightning.

The league has capacity for ten teams, and while a number of clubs were not selected to enter at this stage, there is potential to join the league at a later time.

“We’re absolutely delighted with today’s announcement,” said Mark Darbon, Chief Executive at Northampton Saints.

“Since we first joined forces in September last year, our partnership with Loughborough Lightning has continued to go from strength to strength, and we look forward to being part of the most competitive, progressive and sustainable women’s competition in the world.”

Mark Darbon, Northampton Saints Chief Executive

Rhys Edwards, Lightning’s Director of Rugby, added: “We’re understandably thrilled with today’s announcement. We take immense pride in developing athletes through the Loughborough sporting ecosystem, and the Allianz Premier 15s provides the perfect platform for our players to flourish.

“Our partnership with Northampton Saints continues to evolve and we’re all looking forward to creating yet more memorable moments together.”

Lightning have been part of the Allianz Premier 15s since the competition’s inception in 2017, reaching the semi-finals during the 2018/19 and 2020/21 campaigns.

This next cycle of the league runs from the 2023/24 season, and aims to grow the game both on and off the pitch with the introduction of a new company to oversee the governance and development ­– headed up by its own Chief Executive, who will be appointed later this year.

The tender process is part of a ten-year strategy for the Premier 15s which aims to build on the current league’s success, and continue to push the league forward as the most competitive, progressive and sustainable in the world.

Alex Teasdale, RFU Women’s Game Director, said: “I would like to thank all the clubs currently in the Allianz Premier 15s competition for their part in developing it into the success it is today. Their contribution has been invaluable, and the league has set standards around the world for the women’s game.

“We had a good range of clubs and institutions submit proposals and we would like to thank them for all the hard work, time and energy they put into the tender process.”

Alex Teasdale, RFU Women’s Game Director

Charlie Hayter, RFU Women’s Rugby Performance Manager, said: “We want to create a league which inspires both players and fans, and continues to develop talented athletes at the elite level.

“This will happen concurrently with work on the wider women and girl’s plan to accelerate the growth of the women’s game in this country.”

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