02 Oct 2015

Exciting changes to the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) Women's senior domestic league structure promise a "Super" season in the year ahead.

The new look league structure for 2015 is the latest sign of the impact of the appointment of the HKRU's first ever full-time women's rugby development staff: Women's Rugby Performance Manager Jo Hull and Women's Rugby Development Manager Sam Feausi.
The changes being introduced are designed to accentuate the already rapid growth of the local women's game - the fastest growing sector of local rugby - while also enhancing the performance element of the HKRU Women's Premiership league.
This year's domestic league will feature a record 25 teams, up from 22 last season across three leagues: Premiership, National League (15s) and the development National 10s League.

The Premiership has grown from six to seven teams ahead of the season start on 3 October, with Natixis Natixis Hong Kong Football Club ICE moving up to the top rung of local women's rugby. The other participating Premiership teams are defending champions Societe General Valley Black, Gai Wu, USRC Borrelli Walsh Tigers, Abacus Kowloon, SCAA Causeway Bay and Tai Po Dragons. The target is to have eight Premiership sides taking the pitch in the 2016/17 season.

One step below Premiership level, the National 15s League has grown by three teams to 11 with Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish, SCAA Causeway Bay 3rds and Revolution stepping up to the National League 15s competition this season.
The National 10s League will feature six teams and continues its vital role as a bridge for new and younger players looking to integrate into 15-aside competition.

The most notable change to this season's competition is the introduction of a new internal representative competition: the Women's Rugby Super Series. The Super Series is designed to bridge the gap between domestic performance rugby and the national XVs set-up.
The Super Series will see the top 66 players from the Premiership - and those players with high potential identified from other competitions - grouped into three representative sides and playing each other on three weekends during the Premiership season. This season's Premiership will consist of two rounds with each team having two byes.

"The Super Series will feature our top 66 players from the domestic league. These players will be split into three Barbarian sides which will play against each other, effectively adding a component of representative rugby apart from the domestic league and just below the national setup. The goal is to better prepare and help transition players to full representative rugby," said HKRU Women's Development Manager Sam Feausi.

Feausi added that, "The Super Series will give coaches and selectors an opportunity to look at our best players and test combinations with an eye on the coming international season. The teams will primarily be drawn from the Premiership with selectors identifying any players from other competitions that we believe have what it takes to represent the National Team.
"The Super Series will give more opportunities to the best players in the Premiership to play at an even higher level."
Player performance in the Premiership will be keenly monitored throughout the year as the seven teams competing will serve as the primary feeder for the Hong Kong Women's XV.

"We are focused on introducing more of a performance aspect into our women's club system this season. The Premiership is the pinnacle of Women's rugby and we want it to be geared towards high performance, as we are ultimately targeting qualification for Women's Rugby World Cup in future," said Jo Hull, HKRU Women's Performance Manager.

SCAA Causeway Bay is the only side to field a team in all three of the senior woman's competitions, which speaks volumes about the development of the Woman's game at the club.

The three leagues promise to serve up some incredible rugby with defending champions Societe Generale Valley Black and perennial contenders Gai Wu shaping up as the favourites once again in the Premiership race. Gai Wu have 11 players involved with the national sevens team Valley Black have nine.

2015 promises to be an exciting and transformative year for women's rugby in Hong Kong and the team at the HKRU is extremely excited about the 2015 season:

"This is set to be the biggest club woman's competition we have ever had in Hong Kong," said Feausi.

"With 25 teams across three highly competitive leagues it will be interesting to see who will be pushing hard for a place in the Premiership and spots in the Super Series teams. On the other end of the scale, we will be monitoring how successful clubs are in introducing beginners and less experienced players to rugby and transitioning them from National 10s to higher levels of competition," added Feausi.

The HKRU Women's Premiership will kick off alongside the men's league on 3 October as part of the HKRU Super Saturday league launch at Kings Park.