Women’s Sport: Sale and Exeter to replace Richmond and Firwood Waterloo in next season’s Premier 15’s

Harlequins Women v Richmond Women - Tyrells Premier 15s

Two new clubs, Sale and Exeter will join women’s top flight rugby next year, with both granted places for the next three years at the very least.

In order to make way for these respective sides, two clubs will unfortunately play no further part in the competition. This year’s bottom two teams, Richmond and Firwood Waterloo Ladies are the ones to miss out, after their re-applications were rejected. Although both had the right to appeal the decision, neither has decided to do so, meaning we now know the full list of ten teams that will do battle next season.

Whilst Bristol, Gloucester-Hartpury, Harlequins, Saracens, Loughborough and Wasps were already assured of their places next year, all other clubs wanting to remain in the league were forced to re-tender alongside potential new entrants. After an interview process, which was completed via conference calls, it was decided that Worcester Warriors and DMP Sharks will also take part nex year.

Worcester were eighth in the table before the coronavirus pandemic unfortunately ended this year’s season unexpectedly, whilst the Sharks were in sixth, above seventh placed Bristol.

The RFU’s Head of Women’ Performance, Nicky Ponsford told BBC that both new sides would “undoubtedly add quality to the decision both on and off the field".

However, following the decision, Richmond suggested that this comes as “another blow for traditional Rugby Clubs.” Richmond had been one of the leading sides in women’s rugby at the beginning of this century, winning the top flight title on five occasions. They sat ninth in the table before the league was cancelled though, having registered just one win this campaign.

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