What a week it’s been for women’s rugby league with the announcement that two historic rugby league clubs are planning to launch women’s teams.

Widnes Vikings have become the latest club to announce they are to set up a women’s side with a view to competing in the Super League next season.

It’s hot on the heels of the news that Wigan Warriors are starting one of their own. Leeds Rhinos have already started their search for players to join their side ready for next season.

widnes

They are hoping to join Bradford Bulls, Featherstone Rovers, Castleford Tigers and Thatto Heath, who all contested the first women’s Super League earlier this month. Bradford Bulls were winners of the inaugural Grand Final.

The first elite competition was set up to support the development of a national performance pathway from schools to international rugby league, with the  2021 Rugby League World Cup in mind.

Sarah-Jane Gray, the RFL’s development and public affairs director said: “It is fantastic news that Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and today Widnes Vikings have launched new teams to join the new Women’s Super League. Thank you to the clubs, coaches and the Foundations who have worked so hard.

“The new competition is starting to capture the imagination of Rugby League fan and sports media. The involvement of some of the world’s biggest brands in the sport will act as a massive boost to the girls’ and women’s games. Each of these Super League clubs is committing to a new pathway for girls, and is showing huge ambition for the women’s game, tapping into the power of the club badge and passionate fans. It’s an exciting time for the women’s game and I urge everyone in the sport to get behind it.’

Richard Munson, Widnes’ commercial and community director said:

“The new Women’s Super League team is just one part of a much bigger effort. We want to create as many opportunities as possible for girls and women to participate in Rugby League, so they can meet new friends, play competitively, and benefit from everything the sport brings. Building on the success of national campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’, we want to ensure that there are suitable playing opportunities locally.”

The new competition has been widely welcomed, although Her RL writer Angela Powers says in a comment column  it’s important that rugby league doesn’t focus on the new tier of competition to the exclusion of the wider community game.

 

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