21 September 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Saracens Chantelle Miell says team are 'pioneers' for the women's game

Saracens winger Chantelle Miell says her club are "pioneers" for the women's game.

Miell says Saracens, alongside Worcester Warriors and Harlequins, are leading the way.

Shel told NewsChain: "We are pioneers. Us and Quins and other clubs that are paying players and putting money into it.

"In order to keep up, other clubs will do that [invest] because if you want to build the league and the club you're going to have to put money into it.

"Over the next couple seasons everyone will start to increase their investment and then that will have a snowball effect and hopefully keep pushing the game on.  

"This is the first year that this has happened in the Premiership so it might take a couple years to filter down to other clubs.

"It'll definitely spur people on to put more money into the game."

Miell wants women's rugby to be at the point women's football is in five years time(Marek Dorcik)

While Saracens and Worcester Warriors are paying their women's players for the first time, Harlequins are financially supporting their players by paying for things such as accommodation.

There is further evidence of the move towards a level playing field around Sarries' home ground, Allianz Park.

Splashed across the west stand is their famous hashtag #TogetherSaracens alongside photos of both male and female players. Across on the east stand, photos of the men winning the Premiership are mirrored with the women's side celebrating their Premier 15s win last season.  

The ethos at the top club in the country is cemented in elevating the women's game to the same level as the men's.  

Miell says that the link with the men's side definitely helps to boost the women's game

"Yeah, [the link] massively [helps].

"I think we have been marketed quite well in pre-season as well, the kit launch was with the boys, we had all of our media day with the boys - it's quite aligned.  

"It's like a family environment where we want to help each other. I think that makes a huge difference.  

"There's been a lot of buzz around our social media and how it looks really good in the lead up to the Premiership. I think we're the front-runners with that as well, with trying to put our name out there."

Concerning the future of the women's game, Miell says that she hopes rugby can follow in football's footsteps.

"I'd like the women's game to be closer to what football is like now.

"The World Cup was everywhere. It was on TV, the exposure for the game increased and the viewing rates were sky high.

"It was the biggest for any women's sport out there so hopefully we can follow in that pathway

"I know we are trying to get more spectators to games. Often people aren't expecting it to be as good a watch as it is."

Saracens Women are defending their title after beating Harlequins in the final last season (PA Images)

The Saracens Women are playing Bristol Bears Women in the opening weekend of the Premier 15s.

Sarries travel to Miell's former club to start the campaign to defend their title.

"It'll be really nice to be back in Bristol and also I'm going to go home for the weekend which will be really cool.

"I'll spend some time with the family, but yeah, it'll be good to see everyone and to play in Bristol again."

The winger says that the defending champions are taking this season one game at a time.

Miell said: "I don't think we have spoken about it [defending the title] much even in training because it's very easy to get carried away with what you have done in the past.

"Every team in the Premiership is growing and there has been a lot of movement, people changing clubs.  

"The game is becoming a bit more professional so you never know what you're going to get. We're going into the Premiership with the mentality to take every game one at a time to make sure we get things right and not think about the end goal.  

"Ultimately we do want to retain that title but it hasn't been spoken about much because we want to concentrate on the goals in the short term."

Miell says the increased investment will elevate the women's game to it's deserved status.

"I think that will have a snowball affect especially with the clubs putting more money in.

"That will transfer into better performance and a better game to watch. Hopefully in five years time we could be full-time athletes or even part-time athletes and have a bit more support to try and push the game further."

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox