In a great step forward for women’s rugby, the Warriors have today announced that they have integrated Women’s Premiership side Worcester Ladies RFC into the Warriors operation.
The Ladies team is to be renamed as the Worcester Valkyries and will become part of the Warriors organisation ahead of the 2016/17 Women’s Premiership campaign.
The alliance will create a joined-up approach to male and female elite rugby in Worcester, while providing a pathway for female players within Worcester RFC Ladies and Girls’ section who aspire to play at the elite end of the women’s game.
Warriors will provide Worcester Valkyries’ operating budget which includes coaching, kit, transport, promotion and other resources.
The switch will also see elite women’s rugby added to the Warriors brand while being integrated into the Club’s broader community operations.
Warriors Chief Executive Jim O’Toole said: “We see this as a significant development in our overall role within rugby in Worcestershire and the West Midlands.
“Given the recent focus on increasing female participation in rugby at all levels, we now have a very clear pathway for girls under the age of 13 up to elite level of the game in this county via the amateur club’s ladies and girls sections, and ultimately up to the Valkyries in the Women’s Premiership.”
Worcester Ladies have been one of the top sides in the Women’s Premiership over recent campaigns, winning it for the very first time in 2012/13 and finishing in the top four for the past three seasons.
Meanwhile, the Worcester Ladies RFC second-team will remain as part of Worcester RFC playing in the current Women’s Championship Midlands Two as part of the amateur club.
Worcester Valkyries Rugby Manager Dave Guest said: “This is a major step forward in taking women’s rugby to the next level at Worcester.
“The resource and facilities, which are second to none in the Women’s Premiership, will provide opportunities for existing, aspiring and new players to develop in an elite culture at Sixways, as well as being part of a recognised Premiership brand and increasing the profile of the women’s game globally.
“Nationally there has been growth in women’s and girls’ rugby since England won the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014 and we aim to take every opportunity to facilitate this continuing trend in Worcestershire by working alongside Warriors.
“Our girls have done a fantastic job in recent seasons and the goal now is to continue that upward spiral in challenging Saracens and Richmond at the top of the table.”
The Valkyries will play in the brand-new, female-cut Under Armour kit in the 2016/17 campaign, while some of their games will also take place on the new Artificial Grass Pitch at Sixways alongside Warriors matches.
O’Toole explained: “Hosting back-to-back games with Warriors and the Valkyries will provide supporters with some bumper matchdays as well as better value for money, while also increasing the fan-base of the women’s game.”
Worcester Ladies winger and England Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Lydia Thompson said: “It’s an exciting time for all the girls and it’s certainly going to transform women’s rugby in Worcester.
“We’re all really looking forward to playing on the big stage at Sixways in front of bigger crowds and by building our support, it will help improve our game moving forward.
“I can’t wait for the new season to put my boots on and to step out onto the new pitch.”
Report courtesy of the Worcester Valkyries