THE Welsh Rugby Union is aiming to set up two "super clubs" after a raft of top international players headed over the border to England.

A glut of the Wales team have signed to play in the Premier 15s ahead of next year's World Cup.

Back row forward Alisha Butchers and wing Jasmine Joyce have signed for Bristol where they will play alongside Test captain and number eight Siwan Lillicrap, flanker Manon Johnes, prop Caryl Thomas, scrum-half Keira Bevan, fly-half Elinor Snowsill and full-back Lauren Smyth.

Prop Cerys Hale, from Newport, plays for Gloucester-Hartpury along with Bethan Lewis, Kelsey Jones, Shona Powell-Hughes, Lleucu George, Gwen Crabb and Sian Williams.

Hooker Carys Phillips and back row forwards Sioned Harries and Alex Callender play for Worcester while wing Lisa Neumann is on Sale Sharks' books.

The attraction is clear with England having a strong, well-run league featuring plenty of Test talent.

The WRU state that they are working more closely with the English clubs to plan for the season and maximise medical and conditioning resources but that the intention is for Welsh players to have two strong options at home.

In 2019 the Regional Championship featured the Ospreys, Scarlets, Cardiff Blues and RGC but no Dragons team because of the lack of a Premier League club in the region.

Free Press Series:

WRU women and girls' general manager Charlotte Wathan said: "In the short term, the intention is that our performance players will train and play for Premier 15s clubs and longer term we aim to establish two high performance centres in Wales, hopefully leading to the development of two competitive 'super clubs'.

"We know we have talented players in Wales and we believe these measures will help to further harness that talent and create an environment which increases competition for places in the programme."

Meanwhile, the WRU are starting the search for a new head coach along with two other key roles to lead them to next year's World Cup in New Zealand and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Boss Rowland Phillips left his role before the 2019 autumn campaign and former Wales prop Chris Horsman held the reins, assisted by Geraint Lewis and Gareth Wyatt.

Wales loss all four of their games in the Six Nations.

The Union are looking for a new coach along with a head of performance and a performance analyst with more appointments to come.

WRU performance director Ryan Jones said: "We are keen to talk to professional coaches with the ability to be world-leading within women's rugby.

"This is an exciting period for the women's game globally with the Rugby World Cup and Commonwealth Games around the corner and the group of players and coaches we assemble over the coming months will have the opportunity to build something special within a clear set of performance, personal and team goals, both within the international 15-a-side and 7s game."

Free Press Series:

The WRU is continuing with plans to provide more funding for the women's game despite the financial hit from the coronavirus crisis.

Wathan said: "We are committed to increasing female participation numbers and raising standards at all levels of the game for women and girls in Wales and raising performance standards through a dedicated team of coaches and performance staff will greatly help us to achieve those aims.

"Part of the role of the new staff will also be to raise coaching and conditioning standards across the female game in Wales."