The second season of the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition has been preceded by a transfer market only slightly less hectic than in 2017.
The gainers once more are clubs in the south-east, though Loughborough Lightning caused a major surprise by announcing the acquisition of no fewer than three Red Roses, Katy Daley-Mclean, Justine Lucas and Jo Brown. That first name will be an especial cause for rejoicing in the East Midlands. Katy Daley-Mclean has been attached to Darlington Mowden Park all her first-class career.
The other Red Roses to be joining new clubs are Emily Scott (Quins), Amy Wilson Hardy and Katie Mason (Wasps) and Hannah Field (Richmond).
Other are rejoining their old clubs after injury or a period away: Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury), Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears), Vicky Fleetwood and Sarah McKenna (Saracens).
The Celtic lands have seen more of their players move to English clubs to further their careers: the Irish internationals, Claire Molloy (Bristol) and Cliodhna Moloney have joined Wasps; Leah Lyons has moved to Quins along with Scotland’s Jade Konkel. Welsh players have again found Bristol their best bet. Elinor Snowsill, Abbie Flemming, Caryl Thomas, Carys Phillips and Rhi Parker will all be running out for the newly dubbed ‘Bears’.
All these additions to the Tyrrells roster increase the excitement for a new season. The worry is that the gap between the haves and the have-nots will widen. Last season Firwood Waterloo performed admirably without a galaxy of big names to support their cause. Worcester will be boosted by the return of two great names from England’s triumphs of recent years, Laura Keates and Lydia Thompson. DMP still have three Red Roses to their name in Tamara Taylor, La Toya Mason and Heather Kerr, and must hope that the acquisition of Scotland’s Lisa Thomson from Lille will help overcome the loss of Daley-Mclean.
Cautious betters are advised to keep their money in the safe. The chances of Saracens failing to regain the trophy are slight, whatever their new coach Alex Austerberry says about the strength of the nine other clubs. Quins and Wasps have built up rosters laden with internationals, but Sarries have even more massive strength than last season fore and aft. The campaign begins on Saturday 8 September.