Jasmine Hazell of DMP Durham Sharks
DMP Durham Sharks number eight Jasmine Hazell charges for the line

Premier 15s side DMP Durham Sharks say they may have to pull out of next season’s competition because of a “shortfall” in funding.

They have launched a crowdfunding bid, asking for help with “the basic running costs required to compete in the league this season” and to “keep women’s elite rugby alive in the North East”.

The RFU says it is working with Sharks “to attain a suitable outcome”.

The new Premier 15s season starts on 19 November.

Sharks finished bottom of last season’s table, losing all 18 games and conceding 1,240 points.

Following a 104-0 loss to Saracens in January, the RFU said it would work with the side to look at improving performances.

In light of the latest development, the RFU said: “DMP Durham Sharks are currently not in a position to secure the level of funding required to compete in the 2022-23 Allianz Premier 15s.

“The RFU and DMP Durham Sharks are working together to attain a suitable outcome given the circumstances. We understand this is a difficult and uncertain time for all involved and will update as and when we can.”

Sharks are part of community club Darlington Mowden Park – unlike most sides in the league, they are not affiliated with a club that has a Premiership men’s team.

In their crowdfunding statement they said: “There is a raft of talent in the region that will go unnurtured and underdeveloped if the team doesn’t have the ability to play and coach. Women and girls across the North East would be denied the chance to compete at the highest level and grow or pursue their dreams of playing for their country.”

The club has played a role in the development of more than 50 England international representative level players over the past 15 years, they added.

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