Last year Georgia Evans helped Saracens regain the title, but the Chiefs upset the reigning champions in the semi-finals to make it back-to-back final appearances. Last year they were undone by Sarries and 12 months on will be seeking to make it a double having already won the Premiership Cup.
Picking a winner is difficult because while Gloucester-Hartpury ended the regular season on top of the table, they were beaten handily at home by the Chiefs. That defeat came at a time when Gloucester-Hartpury had nothing riding on the game, but nonetheless it will mean the Chiefs will travel full of confidence.
“We started pre-season at the beginning of July, so it has been a long campaign. It is almost a year-long calendar, so to have the chance to finish it all off at Kingsholm, or Queensholm as we’re calling it, would be special,” said Sean Lynn, Gloucester-Hartpury’s Welsh coach
“I told the girls after the semi-final that when you go to a final you don’t want to enjoy the game, you want to go there and win it. That would be very special.”
Lleucu George, Kelsey Jones and Bethan Lewis all start in the home side, while Sisi Tuipulotu and Lisa Neumann are primed to come off the bench. The Chiefs have Abbie Fleming, who started in the semi-final, and Robyn Wilkins among their replacements.
Given the final is between the two teams who occupied the top two spots in the league table, it really is a case of the best v the best. Gloucester-Hartpury beat Bristol Bears in the semi-finals at home.
Nicknamed “The Circus”, Gloucester-Hartpury have been the story of the season after a summer of brilliant recruitment, especially up front. Well led from scrum half by Natasha Hunt, the best player in the league during this campaign, they will be hoping to give their partisan home crowd plenty to shout about.
It will be the biggest final yet, live on the BBC and BT Sport, and is set to be watched by a record crowd, providing further evidence of the growth of women’s rugby.
“What we are seeing now is a really exciting growth in the interest in women’s rugby. You saw that in some of the TV viewing figures around the World Cup final, the the game at Twickenham a couple of months ago,” said Belinda Moore, chief executive of the Allianz Premier 15s.
“You can start to see the growth coming. It’s almost like being on the edge of a springboard and waiting to dive into this huge opportunity that waits ahead of us.
“It is about making sure that we absolutely capitalise upon it for the good of the sport. I can’t wait.”