Premier 15s, the top tier of English women’s rugby union, has announced it will rebrand as Premier Women’s Rugby (PWR) next season as part of a 10-year plan to further professionalize women’s rugby in the country.
The rebrand, which is part of a 10-year strategy to elevate women’s rugby in England, will see PWR manage the Premiership Women’s Rugby club competition, which will launch later this year as a 10-team league in partnership with England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) governing body.
The rebrand was created in partnership with creative sports agency MATTA, where current Saracens player Flo Williams serves as the organization’s women’s sport lead.
Women’s rugby has seen a steady rise in popularity in recent years, with a record crowd of 9,668 turning up to see Gloucester-Hartpury beat Exeter 34-10 in the Premier 15s final on Saturday (June 24).
The domestic rights to the 2023 women's rugby season were held by UK public broadcaster the BBC, while the previous season’s semi-finals and finals were aired by both the BBC and pay-TV’s BT Sport.
A record-breaking crowd of 58,498, meanwhile, watched as England were crowned Women's Six Nations champions by beating France at Twickenham Stadium in April.
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England is also due to host the next Women's Rugby World Cup in 2025, which PWR will use to accelerate its plans and introduce girls and women to the game.
PWR chief executive Belinda Moore said: “Our ambition is to transform the league into the world’s most competitive, progressive, and sustainable domestic rugby competition.
“Elite women’s rugby in England has never been in a stronger place. The [Premier 15s] final was the culmination of a season that has confirmed that we have strong player talent depth as the foundation to grow the league over the next decade.
“The new era starts today, and the competition’s new look and feel is designed to be powerful, dynamic, and eye-catching. It aims to capture the excitement and high energy of the league, the players, the fans, and the sport as a whole.”
Premier 15s was launched in 2017 and the Women’s Rugby Association players’ union was established in December 2021 to provide support to those competing in the competition. Saracens and Harlequins have dominated the league, sharing all title wins between them until this season.
Next season’s division will feature championship defenders Gloucester-Hartpury, Exeter, Loughborough, Bristol, Harlequins, and Saracens. Sale and Worcester have been handed conditional offers to join after being initially omitted from the tender process last December, along with Leicester and Ealing.
Moore, who was appointed chief executive last October, added: “We believe that rugby’s next era will be built on the foundations of collaboration, and it is a hugely positive step to see this partnership with the RFU and the clubs to deliver what’s best of the women’s game, harness the current foundations and accelerate the growth of the league.”