Sale Sharks have made their intentions clear for next season by submitting a bid to enter England’s top women’s rugby union league, the Premier 15’s.
Following on from Exeter Chiefs, Sale is the second side from the men’s Premiership to launch such a bid.
If accepted, Sale has pledged to spend over £1million across a three-year time-frame, despite having only formed in September 2018. Since forming the club have focused on building the team and playing against Scottish Premiership sides.
The team play in the National Challenge One North West league and sit top of the table at present. The Tyrrells Premier 15’s table currently contains 10 teams, with fierce London rivals Harlequins and Saracens separated by just three points at the top after 12 games.
Meanwhile, Waterloo Ladies are rooted to the bottom of the table, with Richmond only slightly better off in 9th, having won just one game all season.
The current system grants each of these teams a three-year license, but they are up at the end of this year. The RFU will, therefore, award four licenses in March which will subsequently form a revised 10-team league from the 2020-21 season onwards.
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Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond was supportive of the club’s bid, declaring that "To have a high-performance team aligned with a Premiership club in the North West will be fantastic for the women's game as a whole, and should help grow participation numbers at grassroots as well as increasing the opportunity for players from the region to experience top-level rugby without the need to relocate."
Michelle Orange, co-owner of the club echoed this belief. “We are so pleased to be submitting an application to join the Tyrrell's Premier 15’s League,” she said.
The RFU will audit all existing Premier 15 teams based on a combination of factors, with the top six granted another three-year licence.
The final four will contain the winners of the Championship North and South, the four remaining teams and the likes of Sale and Exeter who have also applied.News Now - Sport News