Women’s domestic leagues intensify as November Tests loom

We’re now fully immersed in the domestic leagues around Europe and plenty of Women’s Six Nations stars can be seen vying for positions in autumn internationals squads

We’re now fully immersed in the domestic leagues around Europe and plenty of Women’s Six Nations stars can be seen vying for positions in autumn internationals squads

Ireland have two November internationals upcoming and the Women’s All-Ireland League gets underway this weekend, while Wales have three autumn internationals on the horizon, with head coach Rowland Phillips keeping an eye on the Women’s Regional Championship with a view to selection.

The Tyrrells Premier 15s also moves on to Round Four in England – here’s our preview of all this weekend’s women’s domestic action.

Saracens England stars to be tested

With the league announcing that the Tyrrells Premier 15s final is to be held at Franklin’s Gardens in April, attention is now turning to round four of the competition.

Following wins in round three, Saracens are top but have Loughborough Lightning just behind them – both clubs three from three.

Lightning – led by England captain Sarah Hunter – look much improved from last season and travel to Gloucester-Hartpury on Saturday, while Saracens travel to Richmond later that day in what looks to be a fascinating encounter.

The England Rugby cameras will be at the Richmond Athletic Ground to cover the game, with the home side coming off the back of a 43-12 win over Worcester Valkyries.

The club that won the English title five times between 2010 and 2016 though face a tough opponent in Saracens, who beat DMP Sharks 61-0 last week thanks to two tries from England flanker Marlie Packer, with fellow international Lauren Cattell also kicking three conversions.

“We implemented our game plan and raised the bar in relation to the standards we have executed against previously,” said Saracens head coach Alex Austerberry.

“The group had been challenged to improve our work-rate and execution as these areas had been disappointing against Worcester. Another area where we had to make improvements was at the breakdown and the detail of our work there allowed for more attacking opportunities.”

Elsewhere in the division Bristol Bears host DMP Sharks, Worcester Valkyries travel to Wasps and Harlequins meet Firwood Waterloo in Surrey.

Welsh excitement builds ahead of November Tests

Swansea RFC are hosting round three of the Women’s Regional Championship this Sunday, with Ospreys v Scarlets kicking off at 12:30 and RGC v Cardiff Blues taking place just after.

If round two is anything to go by, then the double-header will not be one to miss, with two hat-tricks inspiring victories for both the Blues and Ospreys last week.

The first came for Rafiuke Taylor at Ystrad Mynach, all in a 17-minute period as the Blues beat Scarlets 24-20 to go top of the rankings.

Women’s Six Nations star Siwan Lillicrap, who started all five matches in this year’s Championship, also bagged a hat-trick for Ospreys in the 53-5 win over Dragons and will no doubt be looking for more this weekend.

With the national side looking ahead to November Tests against South Africa, Hong Kong and Canada, head coach Phillips will be keeping an eye on events this weekend as well as preparing for the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park clashes.

“We’ll be hosting teams from three different continents – they’ll provide strong and varied opposition for us and all be coming to Cardiff well prepared,” said Phillips.

“We’re always trying to push the profile and standards of the women’s game, and the players make a lot of sacrifices to represent their country.

“We’ve had great support at the Arms Park before and we’re hoping for even more this time around.”

N’Diaye’s Montpellier roll on

The Elite 1 flies into its third round of action this week with the teams trying to catch up with reigning champions Montpellier and ASM Romagnat – the top two in Pool 1 – and FC Grenoble Amazons and Toulouse, who both have nine points in Pool 2.

There are eight fixtures on a Saturday that sees Montpellier host Stade Olympique Villelonguet – France’s Safi N’Diaye and former skipper Gaëllle Mignot both scored last week and will be looking to maintain that form ahead of two Tests against New Zealand in November.

International lock Audrey Forlani was also on the scoresheet in Blagnac’s win over Stade Olympique Villelonguet last week – her side are at home to ASM Romagnat.

Ireland name November squad

Over in Ireland, following the conclusion of the Interprovincial Series, head coach Adam Griggs named his squad for the November Tests – including nine new faces and six uncapped players.

Speaking about the squad selection, Griggs said: “The coaching group are really excited to name this side for the November series. We are up against two good teams and it’s a good chance to blood new talent and get in preparation ahead of the Six Nations.”

In other news, the Women’s All-Ireland League gets underway on Saturday as Blackrock host Galwegians and Cooke face Old Belvedere – Railway Union travel to St. Mary’s.

In Italy, the Women’s Serie A is set to begin on October 7, while in Scotland the Tennent’s Women’s Premier League hits Round Six on Sunday.

Table-toppers Hillhead Jordanhill have their match postponed this week but Annan will host Stewartry, Cartha Queens Park welcome Watsonian and Stirling County travel to Corstorphine.