This week’s Spotlight On, covers a side that Tigers fans will now be intimately familiar with: Warriors Women.
The Worcestershire side travelled to the East-Midlands last Saturday, for an Allianz Cup second-round clash at Oval Park, a contest they ran out 25 – 45 winners.
As we saw at the weekend, this match will prove to be a significant test; Warriors Women are veterans, having been playing at the top level since the league’s inception in 2017.
Since Joanne Yapp’s takeover as director of rugby in 2019, the team have been on a steady upward curve in that time, leading to a sixth-place finish last season, in 2022/23, their best finish ever.
This is especially impressive following the immense turbulence that surrounded Worcester Warriors last year, including the men’s team ceasing operation and leaving the Gallagher Premiership; having separated from the men’s side after the club went into administration in September 2022, the women were able to secure funding from local business, Cube International.
Yapp’s appointment brings our first parallel between the two clubs, the Director of Rugby a former England International and legend at the club; Tigers, of course, have been lead by Head of Women’s Rugby and former England international, Vicky Macqueen.
Both women are proponents of attacking rugby and that was on full display Saturda; based on the Allianz Cup clash, this game will be a high-scoring one, with 70 points and 12 tries scored between the two sides.
Supporters can expect a match with the ball being played wide, often, and filled with running rugby.
Also like Tigers, Warriors have been able to bolster their side over the summer, including an exciting addition of an International fly-half.
Young England 10 Ellie Green has joined Warriors Women over the summer, signed from Harlequins. In her time at the London club, she consistently finished amongst their top points scorers each year, racking up a total of 503 points in her five seasons.
Despite her young age of just 22, Green possess’ composure both in open play and from the tee made her a real threat for Warriors on Saturday and she’s sure to be firing on all cylinders when the two sides meet in Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby.
It will be quite the battle if she comes up against Tigers own Meg Jones; the versatile back, who has played across fly-half and in the centres, has been in great form for the Red Roses and demonstrated that on Saturday in England’s victory over Canada, where she set up a great try for Jess Breach and landed two conversions herself.
Another key battle to look out for will be that of Laura Keates against Ofure Ugiagbe.
The two props have been key figures for their sides, with Keates a Warriors stalwart, back from when they were known as Worcester Valkyries when the Premiership was launched. A part of the Red Roses’ 2014 World Cup winning squad, Keates’ experience at the front of the scrum will be invaluable to success.
Ugiagbe, along with Churchy Knight, were the first Tigers women’s players to make 20 competitive appearances for the club and the impact the University of Leicester alumni has had within the club includes scoring the team’s first try at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, in a league win over Cheltenham Tigers.
Finally, also in the front of the scrum, there's an all-Scottish clash at hooker between Internationals Lana Skeldon and Elis Martin.
Skeldon is an experienced operator at this level, while Martin's star is on the rise with her maiden International try scored in Saturday's match against Spain.
Although Tigers fans will be hoping the score line looks a lot more favourable come the start of the league season, whatever the result this game is set to be must-watch for rugby fans.