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Oswestry's rugby star Abi Kershaw fears for women’s rugby

Rising rugby star Abi Kershaw has expressed her concerns for the future of the women’s game after the RFU announced there would be no northern clubs in the Allianz Premier 15s next season.

Abi Kershaw, from Oswestry.
Abi Kershaw, from Oswestry.

The 20-year-old from Oswestry represents Worcester Warriors in the competition – but the club have been told that they have not met the league’s requirements and will not be offered a place in the league for the 2023-24 campaign.

Wasps, DMP Sharks and Sale Sharks also face an uncertain future, with the clubs able to appeal but only a maximum of two set to be successful. Kershaw said: “I think it will be detrimental to rugby in the north if there’s no big team in the north that you can play for – Loughborough will be the most northern team next year.

“It’s going to lose a lot of girls from the north and there’s going to be a lot of girls who will move to the likes of London because a lot of teams are London-based now.

“I think it would just be quite bad, especially for grassroots rugby. If they grow up and they’ve got no teams to go into, they’re just going to be lost and they’re just going to stop unless they move.”

Worcester Warriors Women were handed a funding lifeline by local business Cube International days away from the start of the 2022-23 Premier 15s season, ensuring rugby has been played at Sixways Stadium with the team starting the campaign with two wins and two losses.

Kershaw scored in their 50-0 victory over Wasps, losing her boot in the process, and is enjoying playing alongside her twin sister Jess, who joined Warriors this year as a scrum-half. With her future up in the air whatever happens, Kershaw, who has represented England at U20s level, will remain committed to Warriors.

“It was a bit of a blow, however, I have still got huge faith in the coaching staff and everyone behind the scenes that we will be in the Prem next year,” Kershaw said.

“I would say that I am quite committed to Worcester, I love the team and love everything about Worcester.

“I’m going to take it a season as a time. I don’t think I am ready to play for England at senior level yet.

“I think I’ve got a lot of developing to go and I think I can do that at Worcester. So hopefully the club doesn’t go down.

“But I haven’t really thought about the long-term future and international rugby this year because of everything that has been going on.”

n Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more

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