Source: Saracens

Decisions, decisions

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The abrupt end to the third Tyrrells Season sharpens the debate

The tricky situation the RFU gave itself about the future of the Tyrrells competition has been further complicated by the decision to declare the season over and leave the league tables as they stand.

This is the final Tyrrells table 2019-2020 after 12 completed rounds:

  1. Saracens
  2. Quins
  3. Lightning
  4. Gloucester-Hartpury
  5. Wasps
  6. Sharks
  7. Bristol
  8. Warriors
  9. Richmond
  10. Waterloo

Sarries win their third title running, an achievement predictable from the moment they beat Quins away from home in the greatest game of the season. 

But all the emotion is focused at the other end of the table. Each of the bottom four clubs wanted to put in an extra special effort over the remaining six rounds to prove their worth in the eyes of the anonymous judges of their fate.

Now that chance is snatched from them.

Newly formed women’s sections of established clubs are putting on their best smiles to attract the attention of those same judges. Leicester Tigers are yet another major club to decide – at this late stage – to establish a women’s section. Once more that move has an unwelcome effect on a Tyrrells club, Loughborough Lightning.  Would the RFU want two competing clubs located just a few miles apart? At present Richmond and Quins lie the closest together.

The problem of preserving a geographical balance grows ever more problematical. Firwood Waterloo have competition from newly established Sale; DMP (now officially linked to Durham University) from Newcastle; Bristol and Glos-Pury possibly from Exeter.

Does London possess too many elite clubs (four)? Many non-Londoners would shout a loud Yes!

But with the total number of clubs held at ten, that balance is desperately hard to maintain. And non-professional players have to make long journeys to fulfil fixtures.     

Whatever solution the RFU comes up with – and they have time on their hands now to ponder the possibilities – next season’s Tyrrells’ set-up won’t establish a better balance between the competing clubs. Their financial backing will remain as unequal as it has been over the last three seasons.