Premier 15s: Club-by-club guide for 2022-23 season
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The 2022-23 Premier 15s season gets under way on Saturday with defending champions Saracens targeting a fourth title.
They open their campaign against Loughborough Lightning in a game fans can watch live on the BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport app and website on Sunday.
Teams will have to manage without their England stars until at least the second round of matches to give the players time to recover following their run to the World Cup final.
Here we look at each club’s performance last season, who they’ve signed and who is key to their squads.
Last season’s position: Champions (first in regular season)
Saracens had an almost perfect regular season with two losses and their dominance was illustrated when they defeated defending champions Harlequins 30-10 in the semi-finals and claimed a 43-21 win over Exeter Chiefs in the final.
Key player – Marlie Packer
England flanker Marlie Packer is one of the world’s best players and was key in Saracens’ Premier 15s title win.
Packer was player of the final, scoring two tries, taking her season total to 17 and making her the league’s top scorer.
Key signing – Jess Breach
The England winger signed from rivals Harlequins over the summer. Her pace and agility made her an instrumental part of Quins’ 2020-21 Premier 15s title.
World Cup stars
The club had 19 players in New Zealand representing seven different countries. This included Fiji’s Rachel Laqeretabua, South Africa’s Catha Jacobs and Canada’s Alysha Corrigan.
They had eight England players in the final including Poppy Cleall and Zoe Harrison.
Coach – Alex Austerberry
Alex Austerberry has been in charge since August 2018 and has won two Premier 15s titles with the club – in the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons.
Last season’s position: Runners-up (second in regular season table)
It was Exeter’s second season as a team and they had a huge campaign with their first silverware and best finish in the league.
The Chiefs won the Allianz Cup and fell just short of another trophy as they lost to Saracens in the final.
Key player – Hope Rogers
USA international prop Hope Rogers joined in January 2022 and has scored almost a try per game, scoring 12 in 13 appearances including one in last season’s final.
Key signing – Claudia MacDonald
Versatile back Claudia MacDonald thought she may have to retire from rugby because of a neck injury but has made a sensational comeback and played for England at the World Cup.
MacDonald, who can play scrum-half and wing, joined Exeter this summer from Wasps.
World Cup stars
The club had 17 players at the World Cup representing seven countries. This included captain and USA star Kate Zackary, Canada’s Emily Tuttosi and Australia’s Lori Cramer.
Coach – Susie Appleby
Susie Appleby has been in charge of Exeter since the club’s formation before the 2020-21 season since when they have finished sixth and second.
Last season was their most impactful, beating Saracens in the regular season and reaching their first league final.
Last season’s position: Third
Bristol made it to the semi-finals for the first time but fell short to Exeter Chiefs.
They had a great season including an unbeaten start to the campaign, registering six wins on the bounce but that was ended by Saracens in December in a closely fought 17-12 defeat.
Key player – Alisha Butchers
Back row Alisha Butchers was named Wales’ Player of the Year for 2022 after a stellar Six Nations campaign.
She was involved in the World Cup but sustained what was described as a “significant” knee injury, which is a massive blow for Bristol.
Key signing – Lark Davies
England international hooker Lark Davies signed in June from Loughborough Lightning in a surprise move.
Davies scored 16 tries last season but she is yet to taste Premier 15s trophy success.
World Cup stars
Bristol had 10 players representing two countries at the World Cup in New Zealand. They included Wales’ Elinor Snowsill and Keira Bevan and England’s Sarah Bern.
Coach – Dave Ward
Dave Ward had his first season in charge of Bristol last campaign and made an impact as he got the club to their first semi-final.
Ward signed a three-year contract extension in July and the consistency in coaching could aid Bristol.
Last season’s position: Fourth
Last season was Harlequins’ first as defending champions but their form slipped. Their qualification for the semi-finals came down to the last rounds but they edged into the top four.
Quins were blown away by Saracens in the semi-finals, losing 30-10.
Key player – Jade Konkel
Scotland international Jade Konkel has been at Quins since the 2018-19 season and has been a force of nature for the side.
She is a menace at the breakdown, the queen of turnovers and excels at getting over the gainline.
Key signing – Bryony Cleall
England international Cleall has signed from Wasps and brings a lot of experience having won two Premier 15s titles at Saracens.
World Cup stars
Quins had 12 players selected for the World Cup representing four countries including Australia’s Emily Chancellor, Scotland’s Sarah Bonar and the USA’s Jenny Kronish.
They had six England players in the final, including Amy Cokayne and Ellie Kildunne.
Coach – Amy Turner
Following Gerard Mullen’s move to another role, Amy Turner has stepped up from assistant coach to lead the team.
She has extensive experience having been England women’s under-20s head coach and has worked with many of her new players previously.
Last season’s position: Fifth
Last season was the first campaign in which Wasps did not feature in the semi-finals. This campaign the knock-out rounds will be their target.
If they reach the top four it will be impressive, particularly after their parent club went into administration. Wasps women, who are attached to the amateur club Wasps FC, have been allowed to continue separately.
Key player – Abby Dow
Electric winger Abby Dow broke her leg in the Six Nations but is back in top form.
Dow, who scored one of the best tries of the World Cup, can create chances from seemingly nothing and is one of the fastest players in the league.
Key signing – Cris Blanco
Spain hooker Cris Blanco will bolster the club after they lost some star names this summer.
World Cup stars
The club had three players at the World Cup in England’s Dow, USA’s Tess Feury and Italy’s Gaia Maris. Dow was the only player to get beyond the quarter-finals.
Coach – LJ Lewis
Giselle Mather stood down from the head coach role in the summer and Wasps have appointed LJ Lewis.
She originally joined the coaching staff at the club for the 2019-20 season and so has experience with the side.
Last season’s position: Sixth
The club recorded their worst-ever finish since the league’s formation in 2017 but that was a mark of the most competitive season yet.
They finished just a point behind fifth-placed Wasps and their transfer business this summer should excite their fans.
Key player – Zoe Aldcroft
Second row and and 2021 World Rugby Player of the Year Zoe Aldcroft has been a stalwart for the club since joining in 2018 and recently signed a new deal.
Key signing – Sam Monaghan
Ireland international Sam Monaghan had an impressive season last campaign, particularly in the Six Nations. She was named Ireland’s Player of the Year in 2022 and joined Gloucester this summer from Wasps.
She scored two tries in 18 appearances for Wasps and has great ball-carrying ability.
World Cup stars
The club had 17 players at the World Cup representing three countries including England’s Tatyana Heard, Wales’ Hannah Jones and the USA’s Maya Learned.
All 17 made it to the quarter-finals and five, all of whom play for England, reached the final.
Coach – Sean Lynn
Sean Lynn has been head coach since December 2019 and has recorded fifth and sixth place finishes. His target this season will be to get Gloucester back into the top four.
Gloucester have only once finished in the knock-out places, in the 2017-18 season.
Last season’s position: Seventh
Loughborough had a tricky season after they logged seven defeats, equalling the most they have lost in a Premier 15s season.
The opening game saw them lose Emily Scarratt to a broken leg and it took a while for them to get going.
Key player – Emily Scarratt
The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year has just competed in her fourth World Cup final., where she finished as the tournament’s top points scorer.
The centre is a talisman for club and country, displayed by Loughborough’s improved form when she returned from injury.
Key signing – Daisy Hibbert-Jones
Promising flanker Daisy Hibbert-Jones has signed from Sale Sharks.
The Under-20 England international works as a coach outside her playing career and was named Community Coach of the Year 2022 by Premiership Rugby in July.
World Cup stars
Loughborough had 17 players at the World Cup including the USA’s Hallie Taufoou, Canada’s Sara Svoboda and Scotland’s Emma Wassell.
They were represented by seven England players in the final including record-breaking captain Sarah Hunter and Sadia Kabeya.
Coach – Rhys Edwards
Rhys Edwards has been at Loughborough since 2017 and while the club have been in semi-final positions, they have never reached the final.
The club went backwards last season and will be looking for better results this campaign.
University of Worcester Warriors
Last season’s position: Eighth
Worcester have been slowly progressing since the league was formed in 2017 but have always been a mid-to-bottom side in the table.
They have been able to secure funding for this season after their parent club went into administration. They have also had a change in name thanks to a partnership with the University of Worcester.
Key player – Sioned Harries
Wales back-rower Sioned Harries’ form at Worcester saw her recalled into international action in 2022 after being left out of selection since 2019.
Her ability to get over the gainline, solid work at the set-piece and game management makes her key to Worcester’s squad.
Key signing – Natalia John
Wales international Natalia John joined Worcester in July from Bristol Bears for the 2022-23 season.
John was a key part of Bristol’s successful season last campaign and will be looking to replicate her good work at Worcester.
World Cup stars
The club had 14 players at the World Cup representing five countries including England’s Lydia Thompson, Scotland’s Lana Skeldon and Wales’ Alex Callender.
Coach – Jo Yapp
Jo Yapp has been the director of rugby at the club since 2019 having previously been a skills coach.
She has guided Worcester through a turbulent summer and managed to bring in some exciting talent.
Last season’s position: Ninth
Since entering the Premier 15s before the 2020-21 season Sale Sharks have failed to make their mark.
They finished ninth with four wins in their first season and ended their second campaign in the same position but with just two wins.
Key player – Sarah Law
Scotland international Sarah Law joined Sale in 2021 from DMP Durham Sharks.
The fly-half’s impressive skills for Sale earned her more international caps and she has now got over 50 for her country.
Key signing – Alycia Washington
USA star Alycia Washington signed for Sale in August from Worcester Warriors.
The second row was a consistent player for Worcester, making 16 appearances and starting nine matches.
World Cup stars
Sale had 11 players at the World Cup including the USA’s Carly Waters, Scotland’s Rachael McLaughlin and Italy’s Sara Tounesi, but none of them made it beyond the quarter-finals.
Coach – Rachel Taylor and Callum Yorke
Rachel Taylor and Callum Yorke will jointly lead Sale this season as they did in the last campaign.
They will be supported by former England player Katy Daley-Mclean who is the women’s performance lead for the club.
DMP Durham Sharks
Last season’s position: 10th
DMP ended last season at the bottom of the table without registering a win the entire campaign.
They had to crowdfund over the summer to keep their place in the Premier 15s because of a lack of funding.
Key player – Jess Wiesheu
Second row Jess Wiesheu’s experience in the top flight and at international level is key to the team. She has played for Worcester Warriors in the past and has been capped in England’s youth teams.
Key signing – Kathryn Craine
Centre Kathryn Craine joins from Sale and is one of 19 signings so all eyes will be on the club to see if the new names make a difference.
Coach – Mark Luffman
Luffman’s official title at the club is performance manager and he will be keen to log a win this season.