Women’s rugby league: Why 2022 will be huge with the Women’s Super League and Rugby League World Cup | Rugby League News

An expansion of the Betfred Women’s Super League, the postponed 2021 Rugby World Cup to be held in England and grassroots growth all point towards a great year for women’s play in Code 13 opposite

Last updated: 05/01/22 15:34

St Helens enter the 2022 season as reigning Women’s Super League champion

Let’s take a closer look at why 2022 is shaping up to be an important year for the women’s rugby league, both domestically and internationally …

A new era for the women’s Super League

Having been forced to take a year off with the season canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Betfred Women’s Super League came back to life in 2021 and culminated with St Helens claiming a historic treble.

That Saints’ 28-0 win over the Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final at Headingley saw a record crowd of over 4,000 entrants, ensuring they claimed their first Super League title to go with the lifting of the Women’s Challenge Cup and Shield of the league leader earlier in the year.

St Helens completed the hat-trick by lifting the women's Super League title in 2021

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St Helens completed the hat-trick by lifting the women’s Super League title in 2021

St Helens completed the hat-trick by lifting the women’s Super League title in 2021

He scored the second time the match was broadcast live on Sky Sports also, with the weekly highlights also present during the campaign.

And in the words of Grand Final match player Chantelle Crowl: “We’re just going to get bigger, better, faster and faster, so get ready for next year.”

This is not just the case with Crowl and her St Helens teammates, as the Women’s Super League is expanding to 12 clubs for next season, signaling how much the competition has grown since it was founded with four teams in 2017. .

Newcomers Barrow Raiders and Leigh Miners Rangers, both promoted by the Women’s Championship, will be in Group 2 alongside Bradford Bulls, Featherstone Rovers, Wakefield Trinity and Warrington Wolves.

The rise of the women’s Super League

The 2021 Women’s Super League Grand Final was another demonstration of how much the competition has grown since its launch.

Meanwhile, Group 1 will see the Saints fight against Leeds, Wigan Warriors, Castleford Tigers, York City Knights and BWSL Shield Huddersfield Giants winners, with promotion and relegation for 2023 between both groups.

It all kicks off on May 15, but before then the Women’s Challenge Cup takes center stage, starting with the first round of group matches on March 13 and ending with the final at Elland Road on May 7.

The final will once again be part of a triple match with the men’s Challenge Cup semi-finals in Leeds, having done so in 2019 and 2021, while the group stage will see the 12 BWSL teams flanked by Oulton Raidettes, Widnes Vikings, Hull FC and the British army.

“The Betfred Women’s Super League, like the broader women’s and women’s rugby league, continues to be good news for the expansion of the sport,” said BWSL general manager Tom Brindle.

The World Cup can inspire the next generation

England and France will be among the eight teams competing in the Women's Rugby League World Cup

England and France will be among the eight teams competing in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup

The end of this year sees international play take center stage with the postponed 2021 Rugby World Cup in England – and the hosts are among the favorites to lift the trophy in the women’s eight-team tournament.

Craig Richards’ side are back in action with two out of two wins in 2021 in live televised matches against Wales and France, with another mid-season international alongside the men’s and wheelchair teams lining up for June’s this year as part of those preparations.

England will start their campaign on November 1 with the aim of being involved in the final at Old Trafford 18 days later and reigning Woman of Steel Jodie Cunningham, who also works as the RFL’s Women’s and Women’s National Development Manager, believes that this year’s tournament presents a superb opportunity for sport.

“Rugby league is a fantastic game for women and girls, and we have seen more and more people supporting the women’s game with a growing fan base and record audience this year,” said Cunningham.

“With the platform of a World Cup at home now in 2022 and the Women’s Super League and other competitions continuing to develop on and off the pitch, the challenge is to make the most of this opportunity.”

In addition to England’s arrival of reigning champions Australia, the traditional powers New Zealand and France, and the Pacific Island strongholds of Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands, the growth of the international game is demonstrated by the inclusion of Canada and of rookie Brazil.

Away from the World Cup but close to home on the international stage, the women’s teams of Wales and Ireland will aim to play their respective first test matches in the past 12 months, with the first ones already pointing to qualification for the next World Cup. in 2025.

Growth from below

The Women’s Super League and internationals may be showcasing the sport, but the real signs of how far the women’s game is progressing will come from how much they are inspiring growth at the grassroots level.

The Sheffield Eagles are one of the last professional clubs to launch a women’s section, with the long-term ambition of reaching the highest levels of the game, while in 2021 new competitions between youth and adults have been created.

Among the new competitions launched was the Women’s Super League South, made up of six teams in southern England and Wales, won by the Cardiff Demons after beating the army 30-26 in the Grand Final.

In addition to structured leagues and matches, the RFL plans to organize developmental leagues that allow teams to be flexible playing team matches of all ages, and Cunningham is excited about what lies ahead for both 2022 and beyond.

“There has been fantastic progress in the past few years, but I am convinced this is the only start,” said Cunningham.


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