Giselle Mather, Wasps' director of rugby, has led calls for the Premier 15s to secure its first television deal so that the women’s domestic game can “become commercially out there”.
For the past two seasons the Rugby Football Union, which runs the women’s top flight, streams one selected match live from each round of the Premier 15s.
The limited broadcast options during the pandemic have frustrated fans, with more than 3,000 having signed an open letter to the RFU to stream all matches in the league, which has introduced law variations - such as reduced scrums - to reduce the risk of Covid transmission.
Mather, who has been vocal in expanding the league's broadcasting options in the past, talked up the growing entertainment value of the league following her side’s 24-14 win over Exeter on Saturday, when both sides were level pegging with two converted tries apiece at the break.
“That was a full-on, committed game of rugby. There’s nobody here, it’s not streamed and that’s a real shame,” said Mather. “A TV deal is the next step, isn’t it? I’ve been in this game for a very long time as a player, now as a coach. It is the next step, that it becomes commercially out there.
“The game has to be covered and that’s where the game has to invest. In these current times, that’s hard because the pandemic that nobody ordered has checked us all a little bit.
“But what we’re seeing isn’t going to be checked for long, because games like this one are quality. The league isn’t too early [for televised matches].”
Ahead of the start of the Premier 15s season in October, Nicky Ponsford, the RFU’s head of women’s performance, said a broadcast deal for the Premier 15s games remained an “ongoing discussion”.
Mather’s words were echoed by Kate Alder, the Wasps captain, who insists the growing profile of the women’s game since the Premier 15s’ inception in 2017 has driven standards and competition across the board.
“If you look at the number of internationals coming back into club rugby, I’d argue the standards are really similar,” insisted Alder. “Today’s game was fierce, it was competitive. We definitely need a TV deal. Why wouldn’t people want to watch this?”
Elsewhere in round six of the competition, Sale Sharks secured their first win in the women’s premiership with an 11-0 win over Worcester, reigning champions Saracens eased to a 36-10 victory at Bristol and Harlequins clinched their sixth bonus-point victory in as many games with a 22-5 win over Gloucester-Hartpury. Loughborough Lightning ran in nine tries to thrash bottom-of-the-table DMP Sharks 57-3.