Richmond and Firwood Waterloo out of Premier 15s next three-year cycle
Richmond and Firwood Waterloo have been left out of the Premier 15s next three-year cycle.
Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs have taken their place with Worcester Warriors and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks surviving the retendering process.
Bristol Bears Women, Gloucester-Hartpury Women, Harlequins Women, Loughborough Lightning, Saracens Women and Wasps FC Ladies were all viewed as the top six ranked teams and so were already in the new cycle.
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.”
Richmond said in a statement: "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. "
While Firwood Waterloo said: "This morning we received the disappointing news that we have been unsuccessful in our application to remain in the Tyrrells Premier 15s for the next three-year period.
"We have always blazed the trail for Women’s Rugby Union in the North West and are proud to have been a founder member of the league. It is great to see the increasing reach and popularity of Women’s Rugby Union in England led by the Premier 15s and a strong Red Roses side.
"Unfortunately in sport, for some teams to win, others have to lose and we were unable to find enough wins on and off the pitch over the first three years to retain our place."
The Premier 15s season is currently suspended due to the coronavirus and so will begin again in September.