Premier 15s clubs have announced more new signings
Susie Appleby, DoR of Exeter Chiefs, will be delighted and relieved to welcome back a host of her international stars from abroad. Signatures to date include the Eagles quartet, Jennine Duncan, Gabby Cantorna, Kate Zackary and Rachel Johnson; the Maple Leafs, Emily Tuttosi and McKinley Hunt, the Leonas Patricia Garcia (she has taken on extra coaching duties) and Laura Delgado, the impressive Japanese prop Sachiko Kato, and the Dutch club captain Linde van der Velden.
Their presence will be a huge boost for the Chiefs’ chances. When you consider the privations of the pandemic and their nations’ concerns about World Cup preparation, these signings can’t have been a foregone conclusion. Next season Chiefs won’t expect to wait till Round 4 for a first victory.
Worcester have made an interesting addition to their strength, Minori Yamamoto, who becomes the third Japanese player to join a Prem 15s club after Ayaka Suzuki of Wasps and Sachiko Kato of Exeter Chiefs. At the age of 20 she appeared at fly-half in every one of Japan’s matches in the 2017 World Cup.
Bristol have quickly made good the loss of a quality hooker, Clara Nielson, by taking on Robyn Lock (six Welsh caps) from Gloucester-Hartpury.
With Jade Konkel making a welcome return to Quins, Sarah Beckett must wonder when she will next get a chance to put in a claim for England’s No 8 shirt. The queue is long and distinguished, but it looks as though she’ll have to make do with a blind-side slot for Quins next September.
In an interesting development Chiefs announce a pre-season friendly against Wasps on 21 August at Sandy Park, where a brave new east stand is going up. There have been odd match-ups before in pre-season, but with Worcester about to announce similar fixtures, this is a trend that could gain a lot of traction. In a delectable future you could imagine repeats of Wasps trip to the south of France a couple of years ago where they played Montpellier as well as getting a suntan.
(Lead photo shows Patricia Garcia and Laura Delgado)