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Top tier womens competition to be rebranded

The women's Premier 15s league will be rebranded as Premiership Women's Rugby next season.

The change is part of a 10-year plan for women's rugby in England, led by chief executive officer Belinda Moore.

Gloucester-Hartpury were crowned Premier 15s champions last weekend for the first time in their history in front of a record crowd of 9,668.

The new-look league will feature 10 clubs in partnership with the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

"Our ambition is to transform the league into the world's most competitive, progressive, and sustainable domestic rugby competition," Moore said in a statement.

"Elite women's rugby in England has never been in a stronger place. We have just seen Gloucester-Hartpury win the Allianz Premier 15s with a thrilling victory over Exeter Chiefs, in front of a record crowd at the newly named Queensholm.

"The final was the culmination of a season which has confirmed that we have strong player talent depth as the foundation to grow the league over the next decade.

"The new era starts today, and the competition's new look and feel is designed to be powerful, dynamic, and eye-catching. It aims to capture the excitement and high energy of the league, the players, the fans, and the sport as a whole."

The Premier 15s was launched in 2017, with Saracens and Harlequins sharing all title wins between them until this season.

Next year's division will feature defending champions Gloucester-Hartpury, as well as current clubs Exeter, Loughborough, Bristol, Harlequins and Saracens. Sale and Worcester have been given conditional offers to join, having both been omitted from the initial tender process last December, along with Leicester and Ealing.

Moore, who was appointed as CEO in October last year, pointed to the success of the recent Women's Six Nations - won by England - where a record crowd of 58,498 fans watched the victory over France at Twickenham as evidence of the growth in the game.

"We believe that rugby's next era will be built on the foundations of collaboration, and it is a hugely positive step to see this partnership with the RFU and the clubs to deliver what's best for the women's game, harness the current foundations and accelerate the growth of the league," Moore added.

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