Harlequins legend Ugo Monye talks of the brilliant future that beckons for the women's game
Ugo Monye has praised the "buoyant and fresh" Tyrrells Premier 15s for attracting players from across the globe.
The former Harlequins star also suggested women should be inspired by female players rather than looking to the men's game for role models.
Monye spoke to NewsChain just before he hosted the HITZ awards, an evening celebrating inspirational individuals from the Premiership's educational and employability programme.
He said: "It's great that there is a domestic league now [in the women's game]. That has a great impact on our international games.
"Our internationals have forever been strong, in fact the women have been way more successful than the men. Hands down. Fact. Period. End of conversation.
"The Tyrrells league helps the conveyor belt of talent, just look at clubs right across the country, they have massive squad sizes. I look at the league and think 'why are we able to attract people from across the world to come to our league?' It's because it's buoyant, it's young, it's fresh and people get really excited about it.
"I think the women's game is buoyant from top to bottom and the more publications and media that are able to preach and wave the flag, the more people that will get into it."
Since Monye's retirement in 2015 he has commentated on both club and international rugby, being a leading face on BT Sport and ITV's coverage of competitions.
Being such a prominent face for the sport, does he think he's an inspiration for women getting into the game?
"Whether they do [look up to me] or not I don't know. I remember speaking to Emily Scarratt (England and Lichfield) and Natasha 'Mo' Hunt (England and Gloucester-Hartpury) and I asked who they looked up to. I think Hunt said she really enjoyed Danny Care's work and Scarratt named Jason Robinson.
"I found that interesting. I'd love to be here in a few years when [female players] don't look up to me but they look up to the likes of Scarratt and Tamara Taylor. They have their own heroes from their own sport.
"Now we have a Tyrrells league, England are Grand Slam champions, the women have a World Cup in New Zealand coming in a couple years. I'm thinking 'forget old guys like me' look at the sport and look at the superstars that you're creating.
"They are the face of their own sport, they [women] shouldn't have to or want to look to the men's sport for inspiration for themselves."
The Red Roses are about to embark on their autumn international games, playing Italy and France. When the Six Nations comes knocking in the spring the women will play a few double-headers with the men at Twickenham, a regular occurrence in the tournament. However, the women are usually left with few supporters as they play after the men. The former winger says he has the answer to this.
He said: "I'd actually quite like to see a Red Roses match played before the men's game. I think after a men's match when you see 80,000 people leave Twickenham, that's not inspiring [for the women's players]."
The former England player watched the Red Roses beat Scotland 80-0 at this year's Six Nations that saw them win a Grand Slam championship, the game was played just after the men drew 38-38 with The Scots.
He added: "I watched it and I was thinking 'they have just won a Grand Slam and there is no one there to cheer them on', which is a shame.
"These are the challenges, but when fans go to watch the Red Roses they don't have one official stadium. They head to Exeter, Doncaster, they take the game right around the country inspiring people. I think it's certainly a really important thing for them to be doing."
Ugo Monye supports HITZ; a national programme by Premiership Rugby that uses the power of rugby to inspire and motivate young adults. Visit www.premiershiprugby.com/community/hitz.