On Saturday, September 23, Leicester Tigers played their first game against Premiership opposition in a loss to Sale Sharks in the Allianz Cup. Despite the result, it was a special moment for many at the club and a reminder of how far they have come in such a short amount of time.
This weekend, that feeling will be established as the norm as Tigers will take on Warriors Women in Round 2 of the Allianz Cup.
The match, set to take place at Tigers’ Oval Park training ground, will see the side try to bounce back from last week’s defeat; but senior coach Tom Hudson is looking at the bigger picture.
“In last week’s preview, I said how my goal for this team was to make another step up as a group; I feel that goal was achieved, even if it didn’t earn the result we wanted” said Hudson, in conversation about this weekend’s game.
“I was really impressed with the way those who shone last year continued to do so at a higher level.
“This weekend, I want to see us continue to take steps forward as a group. Whether that be the cohesiveness of our play, our set-piece, my goal for the side is for us to keep developing”.
As well as several players making the step up, last week’s match also saw seven players make their Leicester Tigers debut.
Hooker Alana Bainbridge, second-row Amy Orrow, centres Rebecca de Filippo and Amanda Swartz and full-back Caz Collie all started the match and Hudson was also effusive in his praise for the way the new signings have integrated into the team.
“Bar none, everyone who has joined the side over the summer has worked their socks off to buy into the culture we’re creating and the programmer we’re building here at Tigers.
“There’s some players who have featured in the Prem before and have that extra experience, which is so valuable in such a young team, as well as some who are also making the jump into a Premiership environment for the first time“.
With three games remaining in the Allianz Cup and less than two months until the league gets started, Hudson was asked whether we can expect some rotation in the squad in order to get a clear picture of how the whole squad perform against Premiership opposition.
“Absolutely, there will be some changes (to the starting XV from last week).
“Warriors have a really experienced team, one that’s strengthened really well over the summer with the likes of international fly-half Ellie Green and one with outstanding young talent like Sarah Parry, so we’re expecting a tough battle.
“From our side, we’re excited to trial a couple of combinations in both the backs and forwards to see how the players react but what’s most important is ensuring that whoever comes into the side sticks to our gameplan and builds the way we want to play.”