IMAGINE THE barbarity if the FA decided to launch a new ten-team Premiership for next season – without Manchester City.

Unfeasible, counterproductive and utterly illogical, sky blue fans would be yelling.

But this week, the RFU did just that with women’s rugby.

The ten teams who have been selected to play in the new Women’s Super League competition were unveiled on Tuesday – and include only six of the eight current Premiership teams, leaving second placed Lichfield Ladies out in the cold.  

At a first glance, England Rugby’s announcement painted the picture of a generous RFU ready to fork out £3m in investment at the top of the women’s game.

Except it appears it isn’t quite at the top.

Lichfield Ladies – who have long been one of the most potent forces of women’s rugby in this country – had their application rejected and as things stand will be ‘relegated’ to championship level next season.

The team sit second in the current Women’s Premiership – a point behind leaders Bristol and could yet be crowned champions.

Ironically, the main aim of this new rebranding is primarily to develop a domestic environment where players are identified and nurtured for international rugby.

It would seem Lichfield, which boasts no fewer than eight current England internationals and has played at the elite level of the women’s game for fifteen years, foots the bill perfectly.

With so much emphasis on the need to breed international players, the real significance of this new ‘competition’ will depend on how England fare in the World Cup in Dublin later this summer.

Clubs such as Thurrock Ladies, who are top of Championship South 1 also missed out, despite years of dominating at elite championship level, while Gloucester-Hartpury, who sit top of the Championship table below them, were willingly accepted. Perhaps it’s a geographical thing? You’d be none the wiser in assuming so. 

Perhaps it’s a geographical thing? You’d be none the wiser in assuming so.

There was no reasoning accompanying the RFU’s decision – which has led many to believe that this new ‘competition’ has been fabricated purely on a financial basis.

And what will it mean further down the ladder, for our clubs here in Berkshire?

Redingensian Sirens, Berkshire’s latest women’s team – perhaps the newest in the country – will enter the very bottom of the women’s rugby umbrella come September, when they begin their competitive journey in the Area 2 Merit League.

With only one player in the squad who has played the egg-shaped ball-game before, a structured, rational league in which the Sirens can progress will be key to their development as a grass-roots side as they start life out in the big – seemingly unpredictable - RFU umbrella.