It's 'when, not if' Saints create a women's team, says Darbon

CEO Mark Darbon says it is a question of 'when, not if' Saints get a women's team.

By Tom Vickers
Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 2:48 pm
Franklin's Gardens hosted the 2019 Tyrrells Premier 15s final between Harlequins Ladies and Saracens Women
Franklin's Gardens hosted the 2019 Tyrrells Premier 15s final between Harlequins Ladies and Saracens Women

Several Gallagher Premiership clubs have women's teams, with the likes of Harlequins, Wasps and Worcester Warriors competing in the Tyrrells Premier 15s last season.

Sale and Exeter will be joining the league for the next three years at least, but there is still no sign of Saints.

And when asked about whether Northampton will be represented by a top-level women's team at any point, Darbon was happy to issue a reply.

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He told the online season ticket holders' forum: "I like getting asked this question because it's a very justifiable one.

"For us, we've continued to up our investment into female rugby, particularly at grassroots level.

"We've got girls-only camps working with East Midlands Rugby, working with schools and clubs to grow the pathway for young girls to get into the sport and then stick with it.

"We hosted and bid to host further elite level matches (Franklin's Gardens hosted the 2019 Tyrrells Premier 15s final).

"We've had extensive discussions at board level around female rugby.

"When people ask us about female rugby, often they ask if there's going to be a Saints female team, and the resounding answer is that it's a question of when, not if, but we want to do it properly.

"Doing it properly comes with significant investment required both in a cash and people perspective.

"Running a Tyrrells 15 team costs upwards of £500,000 and given the work we've been doing at the club over recent seasons we haven't been in a position to create that from a resource and a people perspective, but we fully intend to get to that place.

"In the meantime we're very committed to growing the game through the pathways so that when we do take that next step we're very well placed to do so.

"We've got some really interesting conversations ongoing in that space and I would expect there to be more news in due course.

"We remain really committed and it's question of when, not if.

"In the meantime there are lots of programmes for female players through the pathway and it's growing which is really exciting for the future."