The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced the ten teams that will take part in the new Women’s Super Rugby competition this September.
The competition will replace the Women’s Premiership, the current English top flight women’s domestic competition, and is set to feature ten teams, including seven of the eight current Women’s Premiership sides.
This includes current Premiership leaders Bristol Ladies, DMP Sharks, Richmond FC, Saracens Women, Wasps FC Ladies and Worcester Valkyries. Aylesford Bulls Ladies feature under Harlequins FC, having been in partnership with them in the Premiership this season. Lichfield, who currently sit second in the Women’s Premiership, miss out on a place in the new competition.
These sides will be joined by three new teams, in the shape of current Championship sides Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC and Firwood Waterloo Ladies, with Loughborough Students the final side, entering with a team called Lightning.
The competition structure differs slightly from the current Women’s Premiership. Firstly, there will only be one play-off competition, this will involve the top four and decide who wins the title. This replaces the highly convoluted system that currently operates where there are play-offs to decide who wins the title, who plays in the relegation play-off against the top Championship side and who the best team in the bottom four are.
The second change is that for the first two seasons there will be no relegation from or promotion to the Women’s Super Rugby competition, in order to help the sides develop.
The aim of the new competition is to improve the infrastructure of women’s domestic rugby and the RFU plans multi-million pound investment over the next three years. Clubs involved have to follow operating standards that stipulate sides must develop coaching, improve facilities for both training and match days, as well as provide expert sport science and medical provision.
By Alex Knight