England women players will be back playing for Premier Division clubs after fans on social media questioned their omissions on the opening day of the Vitality Women’s Premier Division season.
Champions East Grinstead and Surbiton lost their opening games – both with a heavy slice of England women internationals – while Hampstead & Westminster drew. Clifton Robinsons were the only club in the top four last season who came away with three points, as they beat newbies Isca & University of Exeter.
England Hockey said in a reply on X: “As agreed with Prem Div teams, for those who played in Euros A Div, time up to 18 Sept was for rest and recovery. We strongly advised all players not to play this weekend.
“This was due to the non-stop international and domestic hockey this past 12 months and the intense period of hockey to come.
“The recommendation applied to both men and women. Ultimately, it is an athlete’s choice as to what they do/don’t do this weekend.”
Responding, the EG Faithful account wrote: “So they’re allowed to train, but can’t play in the matches? And the men can play, but the women can’t? You only need to look at the league results this weekend to see the effect it’s had.”
Phil Bailey, of Clifton Robinsons HC, said: “The whole schedule of the league, we have been told as clubs, has been put in place to facilitate England players playing domestic hockey.
“The season has been arranged with an earlier start by a week and a lengthy gap between phase 1 and 2 pre and post Christmas.”
On the pitch, Holcombe went top in the Men’s Premier Division with a 4-0 victory over Reading. Phil Roper scored a double for the Medway side.
Two 15-year-olds helped Oxted score a fine away win over bitter rivals East Grinstead at Saint Hill.
Isaac Dale, 15, finished a one-on-one after fellow 15-year-old Oliver Bennett had started the move in Oxted’s second in a 3-2 victory.
In the women’s Premier Division, Reading beat Surbiton 3-2 with two debutants netting, including 16-year-old Sophia Clark.
Meanwhile, Jane Donnelly, 42, scored Bowdon’s winner against East Grinstead.