Bristol Bears, Gloucester-Hartpury, Harlequins, Loughborough Lightning, Saracens and Wasps have all had their places in England's top league confirmed for the next three seasons.
An independently verified audit took place in the first half of the 2019/20 season where all of the current Tyrrells Premier 15s club were assessed based on a combination of their ability to deliver the competition’s Minimum Operating Standards and their on pitch performance. The process had been set out by the RFU last year.
Clubs were then ranked from one to 10 based on the audit results.
Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, Firwood Waterloo, Richmond FC and Worcester Warriors were the bottom four ranked teams and they have been invited to retender for a place in the competition alongside all of those clubs - including Exeter and Sale Sharks - who have applied to be part of the league as newcomers.
A selection panel will now review and shortlist all the tender applications before inviting clubs to interview. All four of Tyrrells Premier 15s clubs asked to retender will be automatically shortlisted for interview and then the final four clubs will then be invited to join the league starting from the 2020/21 season.
This 10-club structure will be maintained for three years and then reviewed again.
Richmond - one of England's oldest clubs - have responded with disappointment.
Laura Jenkins, Richmond Rugby Director, said: “Whilst we are disappointed by the RFU’s decision to make the club re-tender for its place in the Tyrrells Premier 15s, it remains our view that there is a place for Richmond in elite women’s rugby and we will be retendering. Results have gone against us over the last few seasons, however Richmond will continue to do things the “Richmond Way”. It remains our mission to provide elite playing opportunities within a community club whilst remaining financially sustainable.
“We are very grateful to all our players, coaches, staff, volunteers, sponsors and fans, as well as the broader Richmond community, for all of their hard work and support over the seasons. We look forward to continuing our work with the RFU and other clubs to promote the growth and engagement within the women’s game for many seasons to come