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The season 2017 and 2018 marks the debut of the England Women’s Professional League comprised of ten teams and sponsored by Tyrrells snacks. The initiative was started with a $3.4 million investment from the Rugby Football Union. The goal of the RFU will be to add 50,000 new girls and women playing English rugby in the next four years.
The seasons began on September 16, 2017, and witnessed the 13th round played last week. The three London area teams dominate the League, led by the Saracens (12-0-1), Harlequins (11-0-1), and Wasps (9-0-4), all of which represent historical Men’s clubs.
The ten sides come from north and south:
- Bristol Ladies
- Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
- Firwood Waterloo Ladies
- Gloucester Women
- Harlequins Ladies
- Loughborough Lightning
- Richmond Women
- Saracens Women
- Wasps Ladies
- Worcester Valkyries
The play – as seen on YouTube – seems a tad ragged, especially at the bottom two clubs, Firwood (0-2-11) and Worcester (0-1-12). There will no promotion or relegation for two-years as the League sorts out its organizational capabilities.
Only 17 players, all contracted England 7s players, will be paid in this initial season.
A four-team playoff will decide the championship after the 18-game season is completed.