Blow for women's rugby as Super League and Challenge Cup are cancelled until 2021

This year's Betfred Women's Super League and the Coral Women's Challenge Cup have been cancelled.

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th August 2020, 2:02 pm
Rhinos' Courtney Hill with the Women's Super League trophy. Picture by Steve Riding.

The Rugby Football League confirmed today (Thursday) Super League, which was due to begin in March, just two weeks after coronavirus shut down the sport, has been abandoned and the Cup will not restart.

The news is a blow for Leeds Rhinos, who hold both trophies after their double success in 2019.

Castleford Tigers, who finished top of the table but lost to Leeds in both finals, are also affected, along with Featherstone Rovers and Wakefield Trinity.

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Leeds Rhinos lift the Women's Challenge Cup. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

The RFL have announced new training sessions and local friendlies as ways of maintaining momentum in the women's game.

Marc Lovering, the governing body's participation and development director, said: “The cancellation of the competitions is a huge sadness for the players, coaches, volunteers and all of us committed to the continued growth of women’s rugby league, after such high hopes for a best-ever season.

“We have taken time to explore every possible option for the competitions.

"We have been in close dialogue with clubs and foundations throughout the interruption caused by the Covid-19 situation.

Sinead Peach starred for Castleford Tigers and England last year. Picture by SWpix.com.

“The complex work needed with government and other partners to build return to play strategies in contact sports has meant that full contact rugby league, with rule adaptations, is only likely to return in October – and then only in the form of local friendlies with limited travel.

"We are therefore timed out of delivering these prestigious competitions safely and with integrity."

He added: “Together, our focus is on group training activities at clubs leading to the October friendlies and, for the players in the performance squads, dedicated England training sessions and a programme of support for players and coaches ahead of the start of next season and the World Cup year.

“We will continue to support clubs with training and player recruitment resources.

"We also remain very grateful to our sponsors at a national and club level for the support they have continued to show women’s rugby league in this challenging and unprecedented time.

“We hope the whole sport shows its support for the Women’s friendly fixtures in October and for the England performance squads as they step up their training at this crucial time.”

Sessions for the England senior women and new England Knights squads will take place across September and October at bases in Yorkshire and in Lancashire.

Under the RFL return to play guidance, all women’s teams have the opportunity to play friendly fixtures in October.

The RFL say a "large number" have already indicated they will take part.

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Laura Collins