By Tom Harle
Saracens head coach Alex Austerberry hailed the resilience of Wasps and Worcester Warriors and their importance to the growth of the Allianz Premier 15s.
With both their men’s sides not able to take to the pitch, Worcester Warriors have secured crucial funding while Wasps continue to play through their affiliation with Wasps FC.
Now both sides are ready to take to the start line for the sixth season of the Premier 15s, underway this weekend, with Austerberry praising their successful efforts to survive.
“We’ve all got challenges and sometimes you look out of the window and the garden looks rosy, but actually you have got problems,” said Austerberry.
“Some of the challenges that Wasps and Worcester have faced, they’ve done a fantastic job of guiding through those really difficult times.
“As clubs we should be supporting each other, helping make sure that as one we become a commercially viable operation.
“We need to make sure that’s not a situation we’re ever in again and I’m glad to see there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
“We need all of these clubs to be successful, not fighting battles just to exist, but working in a partnership to push it forward.
“We want Wasps, we need Wasps. We always get big crowds for those big derby games, competitive games, always ferocious. We want to have many more tight battles with them.”
2022 saw record attendances in Allianz Premier 15s home games, the most competitive Premier 15s season to date, unprecedented player talent depth and England announced as the hosts of the 2025 World Cup.
The BBC will cover one game in each round of fixtures with two streamed on Premier15s.com, starting when reigning champions Saracens take on Loughborough Lightning.
Austerberry urged the rugby community to rally behind the season of the Allianz Premier 15s and break even more records - as well as keep on inspiring the next generation.
𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 🗞
The BBC will show one Allianz #Premier15s match from EVERY round this season 📺
Here are the first 5️⃣⬇️
— Allianz Premier 15s (@Premier15s) November 16, 2022
“We couldn’t wish for a better springboard for the game,” he said.
“If we get it right now, we could be in an unbelievable place for our home World Cup in 2025.
“It’s about building on the momentum and making sure that every youngster who picks up a ball has a place to play.
“We’ve got to get it right now, because we’ll never have a better chance. Let’s build on the success and work together with other sports, how they have captured the audience.
“It’s our time now and we need to make sure we shine.”
Saracens will aim to retain the trophy and win their fourth Allianz Premier 15s title with the benefit of eye-catching signings including England’s Leanne Infante.
Austerberry said: “It’s ultimately about driving our standards because every other team in the league is going to be improving and targeting us.
“We don’t want to get carried away with that tag. You have to keep recruiting to drive those standards and get the environment right.”
Allianz Premier 15s - the elite women’s rugby competition in England. @Premier15s