Source: @AshSportsPhotos

PWR – Round Six Preview

  • +1


Friday 22 December
Trailfinders Women v Sale Sharks, KO 18.30

Saturday 23 December
Saracens v Bristol Bears, KO 12.30
Loughborough Lightning v Exeter Chiefs, KO 14.00
Leicester Tigers bye

Nearly the last run-out before the turn of the year. It leaves Harlequins to play Gloucester-Hartpury in a one-off on 30 December. (KO 14.30) Yet another round to provide the scrappiest of arrangements; eight days to complete; four different kick-off times.

Table ​​​

                                    P​     W​      L​      B    Pts

Saracens                  4       4       ​0        4    20
Exeter​​​                       4      3        1        5     17
Bears       ​​                 5       3      2         3     15
Glos-Pury         ​​      3        3      0        2      14
Lightning                4        2     2          2     10
Trailfinders      ​​​      4         1     3          2       6
Harlequins  ​​           4       1       3          2       6  ​
Sale         ​​                 3       1       2          1       5
Tigers​​​                      5       0       5          1       1

Inevitably it is a jumble, some clubs having played two games more than others, but only Gloucester-Hartpury and Saracens remain unbeaten

Individual clubs

When we read the comments by Northampton Saints’ CEO, Mark Darbon, we begin to wonder at Lightning’s link-up with them. He speaks of careful house-keeping, one aspect of which means few if any signings. We will see how that works out for Lightning in the long run.

Trailfinders’ game under lights provides them with their best chance yet of gauging how they stand. Sharks pulled off a memorable home win against Quins, but that is their solitary one thus far. Against Lightning they made a record 177 tackles (thanks OPTA), but that is another way of saying they enjoyed precious little possession. By contrast Trailfinders made 141 in losing to Bears.

Sarries’ home game ought to provide the biggest test of the weekend, but Bears have lagged a distance short of predictions thus far. An away win at StoneX would be a peacock’s feather in their cap.


Leading players are quitting Gallagher Premiership (men’s) clubs – and Welsh clubs – in droves for better pay in France and elsewhere. That trend makes an ironic contrast with the central message from a book published in 1996, Histoires Secrètes by Richard Escott, distinguished rugby correspondent of L’Equpe. Back then he outlined France’s huge problems in coming to terms with new-fangled professionalism. When, we wonder, will PWR players start moving to wealthier shores? Not for quite a while, I suspect.

Squad Size

The question of the most sensible squad size for PWR is given an edge by OPTA’s figures showing how long each player was on the pitch. In Round Five the coaches left the following number on for the duration: Bears 7, Trailfinders 8, Chiefs 10, G-H 10, Tigers 7, Sarries 8, Sharks 7, Lightning 10. That’s 67 players who, essentially, prevented others from having a gallop over the weekend. Some may be enjoying dual qualification, but Susie Appleby showed the downside of that arrangement long ago. The concern is the number of club members not even making the squad.

With one side sitting out every round, and with the occasional hiatus caused by the weather or other unhappy mishaps, it makes for a fragmented season.

The more prosperous clubs may be able to rotate their top players, but many of the others can’t. They need the strongest outfit on show every week.

Last week’s Team of the Week comprised: Exeter 3, G-H 3, Leicester 2, Loughborough 2, Saracens 5. Six are NEQPs; six have won England caps.

Clubs are offering all sorts of Christmas goodies. Take a look.