Poppy Cleall isn't excited Sunday's Allianz Premier15s final is on TV — but she'd definitely be upset if it wasn't.
The Saracens back row has enjoyed a sensational year, earning Player of the Championship honours as a member of England's Six Nations-winning side.
Now the 28-year-old is hoping to cap off her blistering season by helping Sarries earn their third straight Premier 15s title this weekend.
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Their clash with perennial co-finalists Harlequins will be broadcast live on BT Sport, with 3,276 spectators allowed in Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium to cheer on the London rivals.
And Cleall insisted the match — not the broadcast — should be seen as the big event.
"I've got asked this question before, 'are you excited it's on BT Sport?'," she said.
"I think the stage that women's rugby is at, I'd be very disappointed if it wasn't rather than extremely excited.
"Every time we get on, we have these big games and these big occasions, we're live on TV, I think as a women's game we always deliver high-quality rugby.
"It's always entertaining, always goes down to the last wire, and I think this weekend is going to be another one of them.
"If you tuned in, it's very rare that you don't want to tune in the next week.
"People at the [semi-finals] weekend were like, 'when's the next one, we're booking tickets.'
"If they hadn't booked tickets, after they watched the game at the weekend they'd booked tickets.
"So I knew people like that. When you get to watch a women's game, there's not many people who don't want to tune in again.”
Last weekend's semi-final against Loughborough Lightning marked the first time Cleall and her teammates played in front of spectators since the 2018-2019 season. Sarries fans went home happy after the closely-fought contest ended in their favour, 28-24.
The back row, who scored twice, noticed a palpable difference in the air.
"It was incredible," she said. "When we first got there, you could feel the atmosphere and the buzz, them all coming up and queuing at the gates.
"It was amazing to have them there and you could hear them. You don't realise, when they're not there, you don't realise how much of an effect it does have.
"To hear them in the last four or five minutes was amazing. And I'm just glad that we managed to give them something to cheer."
Sunday will be the third time Saracens have taken on Quins for the title, but Cleall believes this will be a clean slate. The sides last vied for the honours in April 2019, before coronavirus wiped out the 2019/2020 season.
Cleall said: "It doesn't feel like a routine. Because it's been two years since the last final and so long, and the fact that the league is so tight this year, it was never a given, was it?
"We've been aiming to get back in the final, and we've been made to work so hard, you know.
"It's not been easy. It's no routine, and it just takes a monumental squad effort to get back in the final and I'm glad we managed to do it.
"With Quins, as well, we know all about them. To play them multiple times and absolute humdinger games against them, going down to the wire on multiple occasions."
Cleall agreed this year's unique Six Nations format, which ended in a finals day of its own, will prove excellent preparation for the weekend — though both sides boast international stars.
She said: "When we played in that final as well, I looked around and I thought, 'not many of us have actually played in finals.'
"It's very rare in the women's game apart from in the league. We don't get any other thing other than a World Cup, and that's every four years.
"Knockout rugby is a different kind of rugby. It's all about who turns up, they're the best in the day, adapt to the conditions early enough, settle their nerves, and manage to put out how their team wants to play on the day.
"Coming from that Six Nations final it's just another bit of experience you can put in your back pocket.
"That's whether they're playing this weekend or going forward to the future.
"You make mistakes in your first final you don't make in your second final."
Of course, Cleall has one finals triumph in the bag already. As for the other? Well, you'll just have to watch.
Sportsbeat 2021
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