Women left in limbo as Super League launch delayed

RFL say they have contingency plans in place regarding the Women’s Super League as the competition prepares to miss its opening weekend, writes Seb Sternik.

Castleford's Rhiannon Marshall evades the tackle of Wigan's Amanda Sibbald.
Castleford's Rhiannon Marshall evades the tackle of Wigan's Amanda Sibbald.

The year 2019 was one of the best for women’s rugby league in almost every aspect. With record crowds watching games and national broadcasters covering the two major finals, the women’s game was gaining some serious momentum.

This upcoming season was supposed to build on the achievements of last year however, due to the ongoing global health crisis, the competition will now miss its opening round which was meant to start this weekend.

When asked about the implications of the season’s postponement, the RFL’s Head of Growth and the man in charge of the Women’s Super League, Tom Brindle, said: “The honest answer is we’re not quite sure at the moment. As with the rest of the sport, we’ll reassess after the 3rd of April. We have a number of contingency plans in place to what will happen on the back of it but, until we have a clear direction of travel we just don’t know.

“Public health and player welfare are obviously the priority. We have to make sure we’re doing the right thing and follow government guidance. We’ve got plans to ensure that once we are ready, we’ll be good to go. But like I say, at the moment, we just don’t know.”

Unlike men’s Super League, the women’s competition is yet to play a single minute of rugby.

“The season has not started,” added Brindle. “It was due to start on Sunday which gives us more opportunity given the fact we’re not already a few games into it and have to readjust and work around competition integrity.

“I’d like to think we’d be able to create any type of competitive opportunity depending when we get to play within this year.”

“Most of our females clubs are connected to the male clubs and foundations. There’s a likelihood that they will be affected. Although players don’t get paid, there are still challenges.”

Should the suspension continue for a prolonged period of time, the RFL are in a position to make changes to the format of the women’s competition.

Brindle added: “I like to think that one of the things we have the ability to do is to have that flexible approach. There’s a variety of opportunities being looked into at the moment around how we could possibly structure a season.

“If the delay happens for longer than we could end up with different variations of the competition structure going forward but as I say, we’ve got multiple plans and contingencies around different paths of the season.”

Teams are unable to train in groups however, most players in the women’s game are following home training programmes in order to keep up their fitness levels.They, like us, will have to wait in order to find out when the first fixtures will take place.