LEEDS RHINOS are launching a team to play in the Women’s Super League from 2018.
The open-age Leeds Rhinos Women’s team will play some fixtures at Headingley as curtain-raisers to Betfred Super League games, though most of their matches will be staged at the University of Leeds’ Weetwood Sports Park.
Leeds Rhinos Women also plan to form an under-19s side to keep more young girls, who often drop off at the 16-plus mark, engaged in rugby league.
Rhinos say the creation of the women’s team is part of their commitment to grow the game and offer more opportunities for females to play rugby league through its charity Leeds Rhinos Foundation.
It also supports the Rugby Football League’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.
Chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “Leeds Rhinos are totally committed to supporting the growth of rugby league among 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.”
Recruitment for the team will be led by Leeds Rhinos Foundation, who work extensively in Leeds primary and secondary schools, as well as 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.
“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,” Forsell said.
“We firmly believe 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 tast of rugby league or aiming to excel further within the sport.
The dates are: Leeds Rhinos Women’s fans’ taster session, Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Monday October 2, 6.30-8pm; Leeds Rhinos Women’s Under-16-19s try out, Sports Park Weetwood, Tuesday October 10 and Leeds Rhinos Women open access try 0ut, Sports Park, Weetwood, Tuesday October 17 6.30pm-8.30pm.