Amateur rugby league players deflated ... but not downhearted

The Coronavirus outbreak has put a temporary halt on all sports – including amateur rugby league.
Castleford Tigers' Women. PIC: Seb SternikCastleford Tigers' Women. PIC: Seb Sternik
Castleford Tigers' Women. PIC: Seb Sternik

The National Conference League and the Women’s Super League are two of the many competitions which have been suspended until April.

Castleford Tigers Women, for instance, were looking ahead to a huge season opener against St Helens but the postponement means they will have to wait before kicking off the 2020 campaign.

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Head coach, Lindsay Anfield, admitted this is an unprecedented disruption. Nevertheless, the players have everything they need to keep fit ahead of their first game – whenever that may be.

Castleford Tigers Women's head coach Lindsay Anfield. PIC: Melanie AllattCastleford Tigers Women's head coach Lindsay Anfield. PIC: Melanie Allatt
Castleford Tigers Women's head coach Lindsay Anfield. PIC: Melanie Allatt

She said: “We’re really lucky that we have a good strength and conditioner who has given all the girls home programmes to do in their own time.

“We’re keeping on top of them to make sure they’re keeping their fitness up and their strength. Gyms are not an option but a lot of the girls do have stuff at home.”

The former England international added that there is a WhatsApp group which helps to monitor the progress her players are making in their spare time.

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“We’ve given them all a ball to do some core skills,” said Anfield. “We’re keeping on top of them but obviously it’s up to them to make sure the work they did in pre-season doesn’t go to waste.”

There is an aura of unpredictability when it comes to Super League and Championship clubs and their financial situations during this season suspension.

However, as the women’s game is still amateur and staff are generally volunteers, this isn’t considered a major issue.

Anfield said: “Financially it won’t really affect us. We don’t make any money from playing rugby. The sponsors have invested in sponsoring the players and sponsoring the shirt but I just hope they get value for money later on in the year.”

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When asked about communication with the Rugby Football League (RFL), the Castleford coach admitted her side have been told to suspend all team training sessions. Ken Kerr, meanwhile, took charge of Wakefield Trinity Ladies in the second half of the 2019 season and is now the head coach of NCL’s Saddleworth Rangers.

His reaction to the disruption was similar, with the head coach saying: “It’s devastating, you train all pre-season, get yourself fit and then you find out you can’t play. It’s just deflating.

“I’m actually getting together a bit of a game plan to keep us fit. Whether they work, I don’t know. Some people might be in office jobs and now might have to work from home. Others might be on building sites and might have been sent home so, I don’t know what’s going on.”

Kerr also believes the communication from the governing body has been less than satisfactory.

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“There is no information,” he added. “When you chase them up, they say ‘yeah, we’ll get back to you’ and they don’t get back to you. You have to absolutely chase and chase and know the right people, I can ring up Kev Sinfield as he’s involved in the club so it’s a bit different in a way.

“The people who are running the game have hardly been involved in the game. It’s a weakness for them.”

All rugby league competitions in the country have been suspended until April 3, including all activity in the community game.