A mid season split will make a return to Rugby League in 2020, with the Women’s Super League introducing the move to try and keep the competition as intense as possible for as long as possible.
With Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants both entering the competition this year, a total of ten teams will be taking part in the leading Women’s competition.
As a result of this expansion, in season will split in mid-July when all ten teams have played each other once.
The top four will then contest the Betfred Women’s Super League Play-Offs, playing each other home and away to provide another six fixtures, with the top two qualifying for the Grand Final at Emerald Headingley on Sunday October 11.
The bottom six will contest the Betfred Women’s Super League Shield, playing each other once to provide another five fixtures, leading to semi-finals and the Shield Final, which will also be played at Emerald Headingley on Sunday October 11, as the first part of a double-header.
Points from the first part of the season before the split will carry over into both the Play-Offs and the Shield.
“The RFL Betfred Women’s Super League management committee have taken the decision to split the competition after nine rounds to increase the intensity of that competition in late summer and early autumn, especially between the top four teams as they battle to reach the Grand Final,” said BWSL general manager Thomas Brindle.
“It is a decision which has also been welcomed by the England Performance Unit who believe it will benefit the elite women players in their preparations for the World Cup.
“Emerald Headingley is the home of the champions, and doubtless Leeds Rhinos will already have their sights set on defending their title on home territory. But as we saw last year, when Leeds came from third in the final table by winning at St Helens and then beating Castleford in the Grand Final at the Totally Wicked Stadium, the competition will be fierce and unpredictable.”
Leeds Rhinos will launch the defence of their title against local rivals Bradford Bulls on Sunday March 29, with the match being streamed live on the RFL’s Our League platform. Warrington and Huddersfield will make their Super League debuts against Wigan Warriors and York City Knights respectively. The opening round will also see last season’s top two, Castleford Tigers and St Helens, go head to head, while Wakefield Trinity will travel to Featherstone Rovers.