Sky Sports Rugby special: Tyrrells Premier 15s
To hear more, keep an eye out for the full Sky Sports Rugby Tyrrells Premier 15s special podcast to come this week.
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 10/04/20 10:23am
Rupert Cox reacts to the Tyrrells Premier 15s restructure alongside Exeter Chiefs head coach Susie Appleby, Wasps director of rugby Giselle Mather, DMP Sharks player/coach Tamara Taylor, and Harlequins captain Rachael Burford...
Monday brought news that 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 RFU confirmed the 10 teams that will make up the division, 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.
Susie Appleby, Exeter Chiefs head coach
"It's quite a relief I think - is the word I'd use - having moved my whole life to Exeter and really going for something that was unknown.
"I'd moved the whole family, but we did it because Exeter Chiefs is a fantastic club and over the last six months since I've been there, they've shown that and that they mean business.
"They've hired myself and Amy Garnett full-time and put in an S&C coach and physio full-time, even though we had no guarantee that we were going to get in the league, so relief is the first emotion.
"And then obviously the excitement that it's going to be real now. We press go on everything that's been an 'if', and now it becomes a reality and we start to prepare for Tyrrells, even though times are uncertain.
"We planned for the last six months really carefully to deliver to the RFU how exactly we can grow the game in the south-west, because that's effectively what it's about.
"It's about producing players for the top international level but equally as importantly, developing the game down in Devon and Cornwall.
"Fortunately the RFU agree wit how we're going to do it, believe that we can do it and that's what we're going to do."
Tamara Taylor, Darlington Mowden Park Sharks player/coach
"Thrilled and relieved. Similar to Susie in that this has been a really difficult time because we've known that we had to re-tender, we've done the re-tendering and then everything else that's going on in the world has happened, so it's been quite a big waiting game.
"Finding the news out today was brilliant but we were just talking earlier and everyone is celebrating on Whatsapp, which is also quite strange.
"When we would have been coming to training this week, which would have been really nice. We'll probably have to have a Zoom call celebration later on!
"[A spread of clubs around the country] It's really important. Most of the players in this league aren't professional, so they're either studying or going to work.
"So if they're having to travel or change their entire life to go and play for a club somewhere else because there's not one they can get to, it's not going to grow the game.
"Having a team in the north-east is huge."
Rachael Burford, Harlequins captain
"We want to see competitiveness across all the teams if possible, but I think you've started the see that this season.
"There was a lot more competitiveness from teams which have been growing, and it's taken a bit of time for everybody to find their feet within the Tyrrells Premier 15s.
"It takes time to grow and develop teams and over time it will become a very competitive, 10-team league.
"Hopefully these changes with a few new teams in and the RFU being stronger on the minimum standards, to make sure the players and set-up is all exactly as it needs to be, is only going to keep pushing those standards higher and higher each year that we go into this."
Giselle Mather, Wasps director of rugby
"[Initial thoughts were...] Travel! We've got long journeys to go on. Which would mean we'll go the night before and that actually is significant from a director of rugby's point of view as I'm thinking budget.
"But on a more serious note, it's fantastic. When you look at the geographical distribution and at young aspiring players, the games now are accessible to young girls, they're seeing they have role models.
"Those role models don't have to live near a club, they don't have to be in London in order to fulfil their dreams. They've got clubs right across the country.
"Down in the south-west in Devon and Cornwall, the girls down there love their rugby. You've got Exeter University there who have a strong programme and so there's a massive pathway now for them.
"With Sale joining and DMP staying in, again there's access and a pathway wherever you are in the country as an 11-year-old girl taking up the game and wanting to see where it goes.
"You've got to see it to be it and there's now a pathway across the country for girls to decide who they're going to play for and who they're going to support.
"Hopefully, this could work out better commercially too, fingers crossed."
To listen to all that and much more, keep an eye out for a special Sky Sports Rugby Union podcast this week.