Premier 15s

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Premier 15s
Current season or competition:
2017–18 Premier 15s
SportRugby union
Number of teams10
 EnglandEngland (RFU)

The Premier 15s, currently known for sponsorship purposes as the Tyrrells Premier 15s, is the top tier of the women's English rugby union domestic league system run by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The league was created mainly from teams in the Women's Premiership. Its first season began on 16 September 2017. Reigning champions are Saracen Women.


The Premier 15s was founded by the RFU in October 2016 as Women's Super Rugby, where teams involved would have to invest in training facilities and meet increased minimum standards.[1] The RFU will invest millions of pounds in the clubs over the first three seasons to help develop the improved standards.[2] A minimum requirement in the new league included developing a professional coaching resource to support players in training throughout the week.[3]

There will be no promotion/relegation to the Premier 15s during the first two seasons.[2]

Team selection[edit]

When the new league was announced, the RFU announced an independent bidding process for women's teams who wished to run one of the franchises, with the initial plan being for all previous Women's Premiership teams plus two new teams to make up the league.[1] Following the initial 14 clubs making submissions of interest, 12 were invited for an interview at Twickenham Stadium.[4]

In February 2017, the RFU announced the 10 clubs that would partake in the new league.[5] The choice was controversial as all Women's Premiership teams (Aylesford Bulls Ladies being taken over by Harlequin F.C. and became Harlequins Ladies) were included except for Lichfield Ladies despite their 15-year stint in the top flight of English women's rugby. In their place were clubs that had never participated in the Women's Premiership including Gloucester-Hartpury Women and Loughborough Students (Lightning). The Lichfield Ladies director of rugby said: " “We're disgusted, disappointed and dumbfounded by the decision."[6] A number of high-profile figures also protested at the exclusion of Lichfield including the men's Leicester Tigers[7] and the Conservative MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant said he would challenge it in Parliament, citing the Equality Act 2010 in that the men's English Premiership had 12 teams while the Women's Super League only had 10.[8] The champions of Championship 1 South, Thurrock T-Birds also said that they would appeal against their exclusion from the new league.[9] However, both appeals were unsuccessful.[10]


All teams play a home and away season with the top four teams qualifying for a play-off using the 1v4, 2v3 system. Unusually, for the 2017-18 season, each of the play-offs comprised back-to-back home and away fixtures with the aggregate score across both determining the winner. For the 2018-19 season, the play-offs reverted to the more usual single fixture with the top two teams having home advantage. The two winners play in the final.[2]

2017–18 Teams and locations[edit]

Team City/Area
Bristol Ladies Bristol
Darlington Mowden Park Sharks Darlington, County Durham
Firwood Waterloo Ladies Blundellsands, Merseyside
Gloucester-Hartpury Women Hartpury, Gloucestershire
Harlequins Ladies Guildford, Surrey
Loughborough Students (Lightning) Loughborough, Leicestershire
Richmond Women Richmond, London
Saracens Women Southgate, London
Wasps Ladies Acton, London
Worcester Valkyries Worcester, Worcestershire


The Premier 15s was launched with an initial £2.4 million three-year investment from the Rugby Football Union.[11]

On 2 August 2017, snack foods company Tyrrells was announced as the league's name sponsor, and the competition name was officially changed to Premier 15s.[12] Tyrells is the competition's first major sponsor, the biggest ever financial investment in women's club rugby.[11]

Most players in the Premier 15s do not draw a salary from the RFU, other than the 17 players who are part of the England women's national rugby sevens team.[13]


Some matches are streamed on the Premier 15s website, and Sky TV may also broadcast some games.[11]


  1. ^ a b "England reveal top new women's competition". Scrumqueens. October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Women's Super Rugby to launch in England". Scrumqueens. February 2017.
  3. ^ "RFU announce teams for Women's Super Rugby". RFU. 28 February 2017.
  4. ^ Lane, Ellis (28 February 2017). "Gloucester-Hartpury set for new look Women's Premiership". Gloucestershire Live. Retrieved 30 March 2017.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Women's Super Rugby: RFU offers 10 clubs places in 2017 competition". BBC Sport. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  6. ^ Beardmore, Michael (2 March 2017). "RUGBY UNION: Lichfield Ladies chief 'disgusted and dumbfounded' by Super League exclusion". Lichfield Mercury. Retrieved 30 March 2017.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Mercury, Lichfield (3 March 2017). "Leicester Tigers give their backing to Lichfield Ladies' bid to overturn Super League exclusion". Lichfield Mercury. Retrieved 30 March 2017.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Mercury, Lichfield (20 March 2017). "RUGBY UNION: MP vows to raise Lichfield Ladies' 'extraordinary' Super League omission in Parliament". Lichfield Mercury. Archived from the original on 21 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Thurrock women's rugby side set to fight for new big money Super League inclusion". The Enquirer. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c "Premier 15s: New league a real opportunity for women's rugby", ESPN, Victoria Monk, 15 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Tyrrells named as title partner for women's domestic competition" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  13. ^ "England and France in talks over setting up women’s European league", Guardian, Gerard Meagher, 7 September 2017.