Lark Davies can’t wait to play in front of crowds—even if they’re the opponent’s.  

Her Loughborough Lightning squad kick off their 2021/2022 Allianz Premier 15s season on Sunday against defending champions Harlequins at the Stoop. 

And while facing the title-holders away is a tough first ask for any team, Davies is looking forward to the opportunity to open Lightning’s campaign with a definitive early message.  

“Pre-season has flown by,” said the England international. 

“We’re ready and raring to go for the first game.   

“I think there’s a feeling of a real buzz around it, real excitement, especially starting it off playing Quins away. 

“Having a crowd will just be amazing. Last year, other than games toward the end of the season we didn’t really have crowds, we didn’t have fans, so it will be really amazing to have supporters. 

“Our family and friends will probably travel to support. There will probably be a big crowd for Quins, but to have our fans be able to come and watch will be amazing too.” 

The East Midlands side is coached by Rhys Edwards, with England captain Sarah Hunter operating in a player-coach role.  

Hunter’s wealth of experience is invaluable to the roster of homegrown talent Davies is looking forward to seeing move through the Loughborough setup. 

She said: “I think it’s really exciting to see some of our younger players coming up, as Lightning are a university side as well, having those players come up is really important to us in terms of the development of the squad. 

“There haven’t been too many changes [since last season] but for us it’s massively important to go out and perform how we have in previous seasons, but just make it more consistent. 

“We really want to make that final this year.”  

The season will once again be played over 18 rounds, culminating with play-offs on 21 May 2022 and a title final on 4 June 2022.

With no promotion or relegation, there are no changes to the 10 teams within England’s top flight of women’s domestic rugby, operating in a league format with home and away fixtures. 

As with last season, the top four teams will play their semi-final over one leg, hosted at the respective grounds of the first and second ranked team after the conclusion of the regular season. 

Lightning have made the semi-finals twice but were defeated on both occasions—by the only two teams ever to have battled for the Premier 15s trophy.  

Harlequins got the better of them in 2019, and last season saw a gutting 28-24 loss to Saracens.

If Lightning are to flip the narrative, Davies and her side want to do it their way—just with a bit more zap.  

“It’s really important in terms of the style of rugby we like to play, fine-tuning a few different things, making sure we’re in the best shape possible to go out and perform,” she said.

“Something we really pride ourselves on at Lightning is how strong we are, how powerful we are as a group, but also in terms of our intelligence and the rugby we play. 

“It will be a real test for us on Sunday to go out and show exactly what we’ll play like.” 

The Allianz Premier 15s is the top-flight women’s domestic rugby union competition in England. For all the latest news from the Allianz Premier 15s, you can follow @Premier15s on Twitter and Instagram. You can also watch live action on throughout the 2021/22 campaign.