Women's Super League: Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers to compete in group one - Featherstone Rovers and Wakefield Trinity join second tier

Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers will be in the top tier of a new-look 12-team Betfred Women’s Super League next year, with Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers competing in group two.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 2:56 pm

The competition has been split and expanded, with the top five from 2021 going into group one, alongside Shield winners Huddersfield Giants.

Last season’s bottom four will be joined in group two by Barrow Raiders and Leigh Miners Rangers, who finished first and second in the Championship.

Rhinos finished second on the table this year and were beaten by treble winners St Helens in last month’s Grand Final.

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The 2021 Super League Grand Final at Headingley attractyed a record crowd for women's rugby league in this country. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Tigers, who were fourth, will also be in group one, alongside Saints, York City Knights and Wigan Warriors.

Warrington Wolves and Bradford Bulls complete the line-up in group two.

The bottom team in group one at the end of the season will be relegated and replaced by the second-tier leaders.

Last season began as a 10-team league before splitting midway through into separate top-six and bottom-four competitions and the new format is designed to produce more competitive matches throughout the campaign.

Jasmine Bell on the attack for Castleford against York last season. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Women’s Super League general manager Thomas Brindle described the development of the women’s and girls’ game as a “good news expansion story for the sport”.

He said: “Managing that growth provides challenges and we have to be prepared to be flexible on occasions – as we were in recognising the issues relating to Covid-19 that contributed to a number of postponements in the 2021 season, leading to the decision to split the BWSL into two groups of five.

“Consultation with the clubs has confirmed a substantial majority in favour of building on that success by maintaining BWSL as one competition split into two groups.

“We feel that will be the best way of maintaining intensity for leading players, which is especially important in a World Cup year, while also allowing clubs in the second group to develop at a more competitive level.

Lisa Taylor makes a break for Wakefield, who will be in group two next season. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

“The continued ambition of clubs in group two will also be recognised by the introduction of one up, one down promotion and relegation between the groups for 2023.”

Brindle added: “While the make-up of both groups is based on on-field performance there is an obligation that all clubs comply with all the relevant standards which are crucial in ensuring we continue to drive the competition forwards both on and off the pitch.”

Fixtures are due to be published later this month.

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