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Premier 15s: Talking points before final games of regular season

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Published in Rugby
Friday, 02 June 2023 03:18

This weekend brings the final round of the Premier 15s' regular season, with all games kicking off at 14:00 BST on Saturday.

The semi-final line-up still needs to be confirmed before those play-off matches on 10 June, while more big-name moves are expected to be announced for next season.

Here are three things to look out before the season concludes with the Premier 15s final on 24 June at Kingsholm.

Home semi-final up for grabs

League leaders Gloucester-Hartpury are the only side who know they are heading into the final round with a home semi-final in the bag as they make the play-offs for the first time.

They face second-placed Exeter Chiefs Women, who they beat at Sandy Park on the opening weekend of the season, and who would love to get revenge at the Alpas Arena.

If Exeter lose, reigning champions Saracens can leapfrog the Chiefs, if they beat lowly Loughborough Lightning, to take second place and with it the other home semi-final.

As for fourth place, Bristol Bears have this all but sewn up as they travel to Wasps, who remain winless this season.

End of an era

On the subject of Wasps Women, this weekend's match will end a significant chapter in the club's history.

Without a place in what will be a revamped Premier 15s next season, they will not compete at rugby's top table for the first time in 38 years.

A big send-off with former players is planned at Twyford Avenue.

The Rugby Football Union says the women's leagues next season remain provisional, but it is expected Wasps will play in National Challenge 1 South East (North).

Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, who also play their final Premier 15s game, have provisionally applied to play in Championship 1 North next season.

Big names on the move

Ealing Trailfinders and Leicester Tigers have already caused a stir following the announcements of a host of England internationals joining them for their Premier 15s debut seasons. Abby Dow is among the players heading to Ealing, while Amy Cokayne is one of the Tigers signings.

Plenty of other big names are yet to confirm which clubs they will call home next season as the new three-year cycle begins.

In June 2022, the Rugby Football Union announced a 10-year strategy that included establishing a new operating company to run the league from 2023-24 onwards.

Premier 15s chief executive Belinda Moore will lead the league into this new era, with announcements around a new marketing strategy and governance expected soon.

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