Leeds Rhinos launch women's rugby league team

LEEDS Rhinos are launching their first ever women's team who will bid to compete in the Women's Super League in 2018.

Thursday, 21st September 2017, 10:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st September 2017, 10:35 pm
Leeds Rhinos Women's Rugby League launch at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, from left, Alan Long , Director, Mears, Mitch Garbutt, Tanya Arnold, BBC Look North Sports Reporter, Lois Forcell, Leeds Rhinos Womes and Girls Development Officer, Gary Hetherington, chief Exec Leeds Rhinos, Jamie Jones-Buchanan

The Leeds Rhinos Women’s team, which will be an open age side, will play at the University of Leeds’ Sports Park Weetwood and some of their fixtures will feature as the curtain raiser game ahead of Leeds Rhinos’ Super League fixtures at Headingley Carnegie.

The Leeds Rhinos Women will also be aiming to add an Under-19s side to the programme to keep more girls engaged in rugby league.

Gary Hetherington, Leeds Rhinos chief executive said: “Leeds Rhinos are totally committed to supporting the growth of rugby league amongst women and girls and it’s so good to see so many currently playing the and we hope the creation of a potential new Super League team will encourage even more to play.”

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The creation of the women’s team is part of Leeds Rhinos’ commitment to grow the game and offer more opportunities for females to play rugby League through its charity Leeds Rhinos Foundation and supports the RFL’s own ambition to attract more women to the game after it was revealed that 93 per cent of the current total of 95,000 who play the game are male.

Recruitment for the team will be led by Leeds Rhinos Foundation, who work extensively in Leeds primary and secondary schools, as well as Leeds community clubs, to deliver coaching workshops with over 1,500 girls.

Lois Forsell, Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s women and girls development officer, who is a current England international, will be heading up the Leeds Rhinos Women’s team as programme co-ordinator and thinks the venture is something that will benefit the city of Leeds.

Forsell said: “Leeds Rhinos Foundation now engage with more girls and women playing rugby league in Leeds than ever before, so for us to offer an opportunity and a pathway for them to play for our own team is something that will help the women’s game grow even further,”

“We firmly believe that the introduction of a women’s Super League team in Leeds will enhance our women’s and girl’s development programme. As a charity, we are very proud to be affiliated with the Rhinos and we believe that having a club with their success and history behind us will inspire more girls to get involved in playing and we hope to be a team that young girls aspire to play for, just as boys dream of playing for the Rhinos.

“We are grateful for the support of Mears, who will be the main partners of the women’s team. Mears have been terrific supporters of our Rugby League Development Plan, which aims to grow the game, and this partnership shows their further commitment to that vision and the ambitions of the city to be the most active big city in England by 2020 and having more people participating sport.”

Women interested in playing are invited to a launch evening at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on September 21 in the Pavilion, where they will be able to find out more information on the new team. This will be followed by taster sessions and try outs which will cater for all women interested in either having a taster of Rugby League or aiming to excel further within the sport.

The dates are: Leeds Rhinos Women’s Fans Taster Session, Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Monday 2nd October 2017 6.30pm to 8pm. Leeds Rhinos Women’s Under-16-19s Try Out, Sports Park Weetwood on Tuesday October 10 2017 6.30pm to 8.30pm and Leeds Rhinos Women Open Access Try Out, Sports Park Weetwood on Tuesday October 2017 6.30pm to 8.30pm.