Warriors Women have been invited to join the next three-year league structure of the Tyrrells Premier 15s covering seasons 2020/21 to 2022/23, the club is delighted to announce.
An independently verified audit took place in the first half of the 2019/20 season, where each current Tyrrells Premier 15s club was assessed based on a combination of their ability to deliver the competition’s Minimum Operating Standards and their on-pitch performance. Clubs were then ranked from one to 10 based on the audit results.
Bristol Bears Women, Gloucester-Hartpury Women, Harlequins Women, Loughborough Lightning, Saracens Women and Wasps FC Ladies were the top six ranked teams and invited to join the next three-year league structure.
At the same time, the bottom four ranked teams were invited to retender for a place in the competition and applications for tender opened to all RFU Member Clubs, universities and colleges that wished to apply.
A selection panel reviewed and shortlisted all tender applications and interviews took place via conference call.
DMP Durham Sharks, Exeter Chiefs Women, Sale Sharks Women and Worcester Warriors Women were the successful quartet.
Warriors Women Director of Rugby Jo Yapp, who is one of six full-time members of Warriors Women staff, guided her side to three home wins on the bounce following her arrival in October.
She said: “The whole club has worked extremely hard to ensure that we kept our place in the Tyrrells Premier 15s.
“We are all so proud of everyone’s efforts and really excited for the future of the women’s team at Sixways.”
Warriors Co-owner Jason Whittingham said: “With everything that is going on around us at this time, and our thoughts constantly with those who are and have been affected by Coronavirus, it is great to share this wonderful news.
“Since Jo’s arrival, she and her team have worked tirelessly to shape and develop our Worcester Warriors Women into something which we can all be proud of. The recent success on the pitch ahead of the season being cancelled, is a testament to how far they have come in a very short space of time.
“Jo has our full support in the continued development of the team, and we look forward to an exciting season ahead where we will urge our supporters to come and enjoy the women’s game at Sixways.
“I would also like to congratulate the other teams who were successful in gaining a place in the league and we can already see how competitive it is going to be. For those teams that were unsuccessful at this time – don’t give up and keep working to support us in making the women’s game bigger, better and more accessible for all.”
All clubs are required to sign a participation agreement with the RFU and the offers remain conditional until this is received. Decisions are also subject to appeal.
Subject to the above, the 10 clubs which will form the Tyrrells Premier 15s for the next three years are:-
Bristol Bears Women
DMP Durham Sharks
Exeter Chiefs Women
Sale Sharks Women
Wasps FC Ladies
Worcester Warriors Women
Nicky Ponsford, RFU Head of Women’s Performance said: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country and within our rugby union community.
“I’d like to thank all clubs for their co-operation, especially in recent weeks where even during these unprecedented circumstances, we have managed to adapt and continue to work to original timelines.
“We said from the outset that this process allows us to recognise the input of current clubs but still open up the league to potential new entrants with a geographical spread maintained where possible and that’s reflected in the results.
“The quality of the applications was very high.
“We’re looking forward to working with those clubs who have been with us since the league launched in 2017 as well as welcome Exeter and Sale, both of whom have exciting plans which will undoubtedly add quality to the division both on and off the field.”
Additionally, the Tyrrells Premier 15s Development League will no longer take place and this will take effect from next season (2020/2021).
Those Tyrrells Premier 15s clubs who wish to run a development team next season are in discussions with the RFU on the most appropriate options available.