EXCLUSIVE: Oli Davies on her 'anger' at Richmond being dumped out of Premier 15s and the reality of a game where 'money talks'
Richmond rugby's Oli Davies has reacted to today's announcement that the club are being kicked out of the Premier 15s - along with Firwood Waterloo - saying, 'it's clear that money talks'.
The top tier of women's rugby was put under review by the Rugby Football Union towards the end of last year, with Richmond, Waterloo, Worcester Warriors and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks being invited to retender for their place in the league.
Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs also threw their hat in the ring.
And the RFU announced today that Sharks and Chiefs would replace Richmond and Waterloo, a decision Davies describes as 'tremendously sad'.
Speaking exclusively to NewsChain, just moments after the annnouncement, Davies said: "For me it's a mixed reaction. It's incredibly, incredibly sad. Richmond are one of the longest standing women's Premiership clubs with an incredibly proud history.
"In the time that I've been involved [20 years], we've won numerous Premiership titles, Cup titles, we've had numerous international players for many many countries and it's a horrible shame that we aren't going to be involved anymore.
"Money talks, you look at the teams that are now in, it's teams that have strong men's Premiership sides that can prop up the women and bring money to the game.
"Richmond men just got promoted back into the Championship, which is great news, but they aren't a big enough name or a high enough money generated club that the RFU want us still involved in the Premiership for the women."
Davies accepts the club have been struggling on the pitch in recent times but suggests, that again, is due to finances.
"I can see why merit might be considered into it because we have struggled the last few years, but if you look at why that is, that is down to money.
"That is down to Harlequins coming into the Premiership, a lot of our players moved there for various reasons. Then every time we started to get a bit of momentum, every time we got high caliber players, a few more come in and a few more are tempted away to clubs like Saracens, Wasps and Quins and it's just been really hard for us to build and sustain growth."
Richmond's reaction was outlined in a statement earlier on: "Today’s announcement is very disappointing and upsetting for our current and former players, coaches, staff, sponsors, members, volunteers and supporters.
"The decision to remove us from the league is yet another blow for traditional rugby clubs, like ours, that pride themselves on providing rugby to all as part of a community rugby environment."
Davies added: "I can fully understand the anger as well, just to cast us out after all our history. I think part of the reason for the anger is, as I said the men's side have just been promoted due to the season being cut short.
"The results extrapolated, they've won their promotion back to the Championship.
"Yet the women's league is ruled null and void, but they still go ahead with the retendering process and don't delay it for another year.
"To me that would be a more sensible decision. Give everyone a stay of execution, if you're going to have a null and void year with no champions then I don't think you should be losing anyone from the league either."
Both Richmond and Firwood Waterloo will have to wait for three years to try to win their Premiership spot back as the women's league operates in three-year cycles.
Davies believes the league should be made bigger and there should be the opportunity for promotion and relegation every season.
"I think it would be better to be in line with the men and have a Premiership of 12 -14 teams, that way the talent will continue to grow across a wider base.
"I also think it would be better to have promotion and relegation each year. I honestly think it's the fairest way. If you have a competitive Championship team they should be given a chance, provided they are financially viable if they're checked out by the RFU.
"I don't think there's any reason why it should be three years, everyone should be given a chance every year. After three years you're looking at very different teams and you might lose your chance if you have to wait three years.
"[Relegation also] gives the bottom of the Premiership even more impetus to fight for their place and position, instead of thinking 'oh well we're outside the top four but it's okay because we're safe for another two years'."
Davies, 38, insists she won't be leaving Richmond.
"I no longer have any international ambitions in regards to rugby. I've achieved many many things at my time at Richmond and there's nothing to be gained for me to go to another club.
"I love the club that I'm at. I love the players I play with. The whole club vibe is very supportive between the men's and women's teams and everyone gets on really well.
"I want to stay at the club and help with the re-growth and see us succeed again, I won't be going anywhere."
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