Jump to main content
  • Men' Six Nations
  • Womens
  • U20 Six Nations

Women’s domestic leagues: The pre-season action

Women’s domestic leagues: The pre-season action

Inpho

Pre-season is sometimes an overlooked period by many, but coaches and players know how important the few weeks immediately prior to the season-opener are towards shaping long-term success.

Pre-season is sometimes an overlooked period by many, but coaches and players know how important the few weeks immediately prior to the season-opener are towards shaping long-term success.

The work done in the gym and on the training field in the summer is always gruelling, but when the women competing in club rugby in England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy cross that white line again, they all know, without exception, that it has been worth it.

Here, we take a look at some of the pre-season action so far.
 
ENGLAND

Reigning champions of the Tyrrells Premier 15s in England, Saracens, know that development around the country means they will have to play even better rugby to defend their title this season.

Head coach Alex Austerberry said: “The league is more competitive this year. Players are better supported, clubs are getting over the teething problems of last year and the quality of coaching is now going to come into fruition.

“Teams and individuals will improve and get better, and by that nature it’s going to be more competitive. That’s good for us as champions as we’ll have to earn that second trophy but it’s superb for the wider game of women’s rugby.”

With the new season fast-approaching, Saracens have responded to this rise in quality by setting up a mouth-watering pre-season fixture with Lille Metropole at Allianz Park this Saturday 1 September.

 
FRANCE

Frederic Cocqu’s Lille reached the semi-finals of the French competition, the Top 8, last season so will provide a stern test for the Women in Black.

It is the first time Lille have crossed into England for a pre-season fixture, showing the expansion that the women’s game is currently undergoing.

Austerberry highlighted the importance of the fixture, from both a tactical and selection point of view: “After a successful pre-season block we are looking forward to getting out there and seeing how far we’ve come.

“It’s a great opportunity for players to put their hand up for selection for the opening Premier 15s match and also experiment with some new combinations against strong opposition in Lille.”

The French Federation’s decision in June to offer professional contracts to 26 female players, starting this season, is further evidence that women’s rugby is firmly on the rise.
 
SCOTLAND

French rugby has also helped the nation of Scotland grow the women’s game exponentially.

Jade Konkel, Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson, who played at Lille Metropole last season, have been re-offered professional contracts by the Scottish rugby federation.

Sarah Bonar, Megan Kennedy, Lisa Martin, Helen Nelson and Lana Skeldon have also signed ‘2021’ contracts – a move designed with the aim of helping Scotland qualifying for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Scotland captain Martin signed for Lille over the summer and will join her three compatriots in Northern France, whilst Nelson will compete for Montpellier in the Top 8.

 
IRELAND

In just a few weeks, the Women’s All-Ireland League gets roars back into life on the Emerald Isle.

Having tasted glory last April, defeating Old Belverdere 15-0 in the final, UL Bohemians go out in search of extending their record title haul to 14.

The action kicks off on Saturday, September 29.