Premier 15s champions Saracens will begin their title defence against Loughborough Lightning when the 2022-23 season starts on the weekend of 19-20 November.

First-round matches take place following the climax of the delayed Rugby World Cup on 12 November.

The 18-round campaign concludes with the title decider on 24 June 2023.

Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs 43-21 to win their third Premier 15s championship at Sixways in June, with England forward Marlie Packer scoring two tries.

Runners-up Exeter will host Gloucester-Hartpury on the opening weekend.

Sharks, who have been in the women’s top tier since its formation in 2017, set up a crowdfunding bid earlier this month to raise £50,000 for help with “basic running costs required to compete in the league this season”.

Funds were raised through a “combination of crowdfunding, sponsorship and public support”.

The bid, which raised just over £26,000, asked for help to “keep women’s elite rugby alive in the North East”.

Harlequins, under new head coach Amy Turner, will take on the renamed University of Worcester Warriors, while Wasps travel to Bristol Bears.

The Allianz Cup also returns for a successive season.

The first two rounds will be played across the weekends of 17 September and 24 September before a two-week break. Rounds three, four and five will be played during the World Cup.

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