Calling the RFU!

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Allianz Premier 15s – Round Three

Bristol Bears 115 DMPDS 0

What is the RFU going to do about it?

In 2017 there were two broad criteria clubs had to meet to join the new Premier 15s league: playing strength on the field and minimum operating standards off the field. You need a microscope to find the penalties prescribed in the regulations for clubs failings to meet these two. They have been applied just once, after the first of the three-year periods which the clubs were guaranteed.

When Richmond and Firwood Waterloo were shown the door last year, the Sharks were readmitted.

But what are we to make of rumours about the goings-on at management and staff levels? How has this distinguished club come to fall on such unhappy times? Why have there been repeated changes in the coaching teams? Why have players left the club so persistently? Are those requirements still being met?

At the end of last season the team achieved a great away victory over the Bears, their only one of the season. Bristol took drastic action. The effects are seen in that result above and the table below.

Those 3-year blocks make any action the RFU might want to take more problematic. But no-one wants to see a repeat of scores like that. It’s displeasing to the players, the club, the league, the sponsors, the spectators and the media.

Wasps v Warriors

Warriors came within a whisker of achieving their first win at Twyford Avenue in the Prems. On a lovely September day they showed all-round competence to leave Wasps fighting desperately in the last quarter to regain, then keep a tenuous lead.

It took Claudia Macdonald all of two minutes to produce her trademark snipe through to score but at once Warriors showed they were up for the fight with a similar try from their No 9, Caity Mattinson.
On the half-hour mark Wasps produced an attack worthy of last year’s standards; the forwards drove hard to the right corner, the ball swung back infield for Carys Williams to offer Jess Cooksey a peach of an offload for a try under the posts.

Once more Warriors responded in kind with not one, but two tries. Mattinson’s quick tap penalty saw Alex Callender over the line, then Alex Matthews, appearing early off the bench, immediately found her way over to score.

Half-time 14-19

Wasps knew they had a right battle on their hands to avoid an unwelcome home defeat.

Vicky Foxwell kicked a penalty to widen the gap to 14-22, as Wasps were yellowed for persistent infringement.

When in trouble, ring Abby Dow. Another lovely move saw Harriet-Millar-Mills attack off a scrum, Macdonald slid a kick through which England’s winger accepted to run in from halfway. (21-22)

The last quarter was dramatic in the extreme. Play swung from end to end; defences worked overtime to attempt turnovers and prevent scores. Maud Muir reminded England selectors of her qualities as she ran dozens of metres through flailing tackles.

On 66 minutes the home pack got a drive going that earned its due reward, though Flo Williams couldn’t convert from the left. (26-22)

Warriors knew they were still right in the game and attacked with force and precision. For Wasps it was all hands to the pumps. Mauls were held up, rucks disputed desperately. A late knock-on denied Warriors the winning score many would feel they deserved, but Wasps held out 26-22.

Giselle Mather won’t use this as an excuse for so tight a game, but four of her squad were in Vancouver with the GB Sevens crew, and her four Irish Ms, Molloy, Moloney, Monaghan and McMahon have more urgent business trying to secure Ireland’s safe passage to New Zealand.

Other Matches

It was shock horror! at the Stoop as an early lead (try Fi Fletcher) turned into something of a drubbing for Quins by the international side that is Exeter Chiefs. They weren’t helped by the loss of Rosie Galligan to injury in the 10th minute, nor the yellow shown later to Emily Robinson, but the champions of England know a repeat of last season’s triumph won’t come easily.

Gloucester-Hartpury will be delighted by the size and style of their away with in Cheshire. So long as their pack front up they have the firepower to cause opponents real problems.

Lightning can claim Sarries didn’t pull away decisively from them, but their loss of players to other clubs and to injury (Emily Scarratt) means they face a tough season to repeat another top-4 placing.


Bristol Bears 115 DMP Durham Sharks 0
Harlequins 12 Exeter Chiefs 24
Sale Sharks 21 Gloucester-Hartpury 45
Saracens 38 Loughborough Lightning 7
Wasps 26 Worcester Warriors 22

Table ​​​                P​      W​     L​      Pts

Bristol​​​               3       3      0       15

Saracens​​           3       3​      0​       15

Gloucester-H​​   3​       2​      1        11

Wasps​​​                3​      2​       1​       11

Harlequins​​        3​      2       1​      10

Exeter​​​                 3​      2​       1      10

Worcester​​          3      1​        2​       6

Sale​​​                     3​      0​        3       1

Loughborough​​ 3​      0​         3      0

​​             3      0​         3      0