Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs replace Richmond and Firwood Waterloo in Premier 15s
Last Updated: 06/04/20 12:44pm
Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs have been given places in the top flight of women’s rugby in England for the next three seasons, replacing Richmond and Firwood Waterloo.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) named the 10 teams that will make up the division on Monday, with Sale and Exeter succeeding after the second application phase. Richmond and Waterloo have had their re-applications rejected.
Bristol Bears, Gloucester-Hartpury, Harlequins, Loughborough Lightning, Saracens and Wasps were all guaranteed a place as the top six ranked teams.
After applications for the remaining four teams were opened up, the RFU selected Durham, Exeter, Sale and Worcester to participate.
Decisions are subject to appeal and will not be finalised until a participation agreement is signed.
In a statement, Richmond described the RFU's decision as "very disappointing and upsetting" but did not indicate any intention to appeal.
"The club has worked hard over the last three seasons and throughout this process to ensure that it complies with the minimum operating standards set by the league," the statement continued. "We have approached every stage of the re-tender process with an open mind and with an intention to succeed.
"As such, today's announcement is very disappointing and upsetting for our current and former players, coaches, staff, sponsors, members, volunteers and supporters.
"The decision to remove us from the league is yet another blow for traditional rugby clubs, like ours, that pride themselves on providing rugby to all as part of a community rugby environment."
The RFU's head of women's performance Nicky Ponsford said: "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."
The RFU also announced the Tyrrells Premier 15s Development League will no longer take place with effect from the 2020-21 season.