Bath are working to formalise plans for a professional women’s team to compete in the Allianz Premier 15s from 2023-24.
The announcement by the west country club follows on from London Irish unveiling their intentions to create a women’s team under former England assistant coach Graham Smith.
Bath have paired with local amateur partners Bath Rugby Ladies where more than 100 players are registered across three teams, with the future women’s team set to play at the Rec just like their male counterparts.
Bath Rugby chief executive officer Tarquin McDonald said: “Women and girls’ don’t have a clear pathway to the professional game, it’s one of the biggest barriers to entry and one of the many stark comparisons against the men’s game.
“What has been very important to us during this process, and will continue to be the case, is a sustainable approach.
“We want to ensure that the club is providing a pathway for the long-term growth of the women and girls’ game, one that helps drive demand for the sport, answers that demand with playing opportunities and harnesses increased participation into a pathway for a successful professional team.
“All those components need to work in harmony, and we are committed to our goals of doubling participation, building a sustainable pathway, and putting in place the foundations to launch a professional women’s team.”
“We recognise that we’re behind other Gallagher Premiership teams and many other sports who are already competing in the elite levels, producing exceptional talent both domestically and internationally.
“Today’s announcement is about us taking responsibility for the future, and ensuring that we affect positive sustainable change across our region.”
Saracens and Harlequins will meet at Kingsholm this week in the Premier 15s final, which will mark the end of the first season of the league which will run for two more seasons before undergoing a tender process carried out by the RFU to re-evaluate the competition and potential news clubs in 2023.