Premier 15s will allow women’s game to flourish and expand
Looking back at the World Cup, the thing England players can’t shy away from is the result. We went in there to win it and coming second is almost the worst place to finish but what helps to ease the pain a little bit is how the tournament was received.
There were 2.6 million people watching the final on ITV. France had great figures for the semi-final against us and people came out to watch – there were more than 17,000 at the final.
On the back of the publicity of the World Cup, the Tyrrells Premier 15s will make a huge difference to the women’s game. I’ve been playing rugby since I was five and I’ve never seen anything like the scale of the £2.4m that is to be invested. We just need to seize this chance.
It’s not just the money, it’s also the increase in standards and that the RFU has a clear plan for the women’s game. I really hope it’s going to improve and strengthen the depth of the talent pool that plays in England. Having the opportunity to vie with 10 teams in a competitive league will make us a better international side.
On the back of investment, clubs will now be able to attract good coaches who have strong technical and tactical knowledge. Games are set to be streamed as well. The women’s game will be out there regularly and we won’t have to wait for sporadic internationals.
Ultimately, we want to expand the game. There are 27,000 playing women’s rugby and the RFU wants to increase that. This league will be a great starting point. It’s easily accessible, it’s in the public eye and getting more girls into younger teams means more talent to pick from.
The whole thing will be good for England. Hopefully, we can see advances similar to those we have seen in women’s football. The BBC has been showing women’s football games and that shows it works. That’s where we aspire to be.
Initially games will be streamed on the internet although one match, Richmond v Wasps, will be shown live on Sky Sports in December. That’s the way I’d love to see our game go. Maybe in three or five years’ time will it be on a Saturday afternoon after men’s rugby? It might not even be all games but the big winner-takes-all games, like the equivalent of the women’s FA Cup final.
There’s definitely a buzz around my club: Darlington Mowden Park Sharks. I’ll be supporting the team for the first couple of rounds from the sidelines and can’t wait to get back on the pitch after my rest period post World Cup in time for our round three fixture.
I’ve been involved in the setup for a long time but we brought one of our girls who is relatively new to the game to the launch and she was surprised to see herself on a packet of crisps. That’s the kind of exposure the game needs. Yes, we’ve had it at international level, but not so much in the league rugby which hasn’t been as easy to access.
As 15s players we knew our contracts weren’t getting renewed after the World Cup and 17 contracts would be offered to sevens players for this season. Ideally, at some point in the future, 15s and sevens contracts will be possible. For us at the moment, we need to be putting on good performances so we give ourselves the best opportunity for that to happen again.
Hopefully, the new league can kick start a plan for the future but, as with everything, you’ve got to start somewhere and this new league could be it.
A competitive league will make England a better international side
The success of the World Cup has created a buzz around the game and the RFU is investing £2.4m in the Premier 15s league