DMP Durham Sharks face a crucial 24 hours in the battle for survival

DMP Durham Sharks have been given another 24 hours to save their Allianz Premier 15 season after three “extraordinary” days of fundraising.

Players in the North East’s only women’s rugby side were last week told they had to make up a £50,000 deficit to stay in this year’s competition.

What at the time seemed like an impossible feat became ever closer since a crowdfunding campaign was launched over the weekend, generating £32,679 which, read a letter from the players, “includes both crowd funding and sponsorship pledges”.

The players had set a deadline of Monday, when they were due to meet club officials, to raise what they believed was the bare minimum to stay afloat in the Premier 15s and cover basic running costs.

The latest letter, posted to the Sharks players’ social media on Monday night and addressed to “supporters of rugby and women’s sport”, reads: “We have been given an extra 24 hours by the club to secure the commitment to underwrite any shortfall in running costs this coming season.

“The level of support for our fight to keep elite women’s rugby alive in the North East offered by the public over the last 72 hours has been truly extraordinary.

“We would like to express our gratitude for all your generosity so far, we are so close!

“Please continue to spread the word, donate if you can, or get in touch for more information on investment and sponsorship opportunities.”

The Sharks have been in the Premier 15s ever since the women’s top flight was restructured and rebranded in 2017.

Unlike most teams in the league, they are not affiliated with a Premier League Rugby side and cannot boast full-time professionals or England caps like Harlequins and Saracens, the only two clubs to hold the Premier 15s title.

Their first letter read: “We are getting in touch to ask for your financial support to help us bridge the gap in the lack of the basic running costs required to compete in the league this year and supplement that provided by the Rugby Football Union .

“It is roughly estimated that we need to raise a minimum of £50,000 to stay afloat in the league and [we] feel that our only option is to reach out to the public and ask for help.

“We have chosen to try crowdfunding to raise money, but the bottom line is that we need a consortium of individuals or companies to commit to underwrite any shortfalls in operating costs during the season.

“As this is a time-sensitive issue, unfortunately this agreement must be in place by Monday, August 8.”

The Sharks have finished bottom of the table for the past two seasons, with the upcoming 2022-23 campaign set to be their last before the RFU reopens its bidding process for clubs that wanted to be part of the league’s next cycle.

Instead of promotion or relegation, teams that pass the bidding process are guaranteed to remain in the league for a fixed period.

In June, the RFU announced that it would invest up to £220m in the women’s game over the next decade, with plans to professionalise the Premier 15s in that time, with several major organisations, including London Irish and Ealing Trailfinders, linked with the eventual. inclusion bid.

The RFU, asked for a response to the latest development, said: “DMP Durham Sharks are currently unable 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 achieve an appropriate outcome given the circumstances. We understand this is a difficult and uncertain time for all involved and will update as and when we can.”

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