After a long wait of over 18 months, the Betfred Womens Super League will return on Sunday, April 18 – with 10 teams launching the quest to reach the Grand Final on Sunday October 10.
With the Coronavirus Pandemic halting the entire game a week before the 2020 Women’s competition was due to kick off, there has been no competitive league action for the players since Leeds Rhinos beat Castleford Tigers in the Grand Final back in October 2019.
While the international England squad have been allowed to continue to train and prepare for the World Cup throughout the winter, Super League squads were only cleared to return to training last weekend.
A full 2021 season will provide the country’s top elite players the perfect preparation for this Autumn’s World Cup competition, as well as allowing numerous other players the chance to push for a place in the international squad.
Leeds Rhinos will launch their defence against York City Knights on Sunday April 18, while 2019 League Leaders Winner Castleford Tigers will kick-off against local rivals Featherstone Rovers. Warrington Wolves, one of the two teams who had been due to enter the competition in 2020 after promotion from the Championship, will finally make their Super League debuts against Wigan Warriors – while the other newcomers, Huddersfield Giants, will have to wait until the first weekend of May before they face St Helens. The other opening round tie sees Bradford Bulls face St Helens.
The following weekend sees the Challenge Cup kicking off with two Preliminary Round ties – Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves and York City Knights v Wakefield Trinity, with the winners joining the top six from the 2019 Women’s Super League table in the quarter finals in May.
“It has been a long wait, but this will be worth waiting for,” said General Manager of the BWSL Thomas Brindle.
“2021 is such a huge year for Women’s Rugby League in this country, with a home World Cup to anticipate, that it’s essential for the Betfred Women’s Super League to resume. The players, clubs and Foundations have worked extremely hard to get us to this point, and we appreciate the continued support of DCMS and Sport England.
“We saw such great progress in 2019, with Castleford leading the way in attendances and for results in the regular season, only to lose out twice to Leeds in two memorable occasions, as we attracted title sponsors for the Women’s Challenge Cup and Women’s Super League for the first time, and unprecedented coverage of both games on the BBC and Sky Sports respectively.
“We were excited about our expansion to 10 clubs, and I know that both Huddersfield and Warrington will be especially keen to get going after having to wait 12 months longer than they planned or expected.”
The first 10 rounds of the season, will be played behind closed doors at two central venues – Victoria Park in Warrington, and Sports Park Weetwood in Leeds.
The top four teams at that point will qualify for the Play-Offs, starting in August when it is hoped crowds will be allowed, with the teams playing each other home and away for an additional six rounds of fixtures – at which point the top two qualify for the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final.
The other six teams will play each other once in a Shield competition, with the top four in that mini-table qualifying for Shield semi finals leading to a Shield Final.
The season structure also includes a two-match Origin series scheduled for July 27 and August 7, again to aid England’s World Cup preparations.
Betfred Women’s Super League, opening fixtures (Sunday April 18): Bradford Bulls v St Helens, Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves (both at Victoria Park, Warrington); Castleford Tigers v Featherstone Rovers, Leeds Rhinos v York City Knights (both at Weetwood, Leeds).
Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, preliminary round (Sunday April 25): Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves, York City Knights v Wakefield Trinity.
The full fixture list for the Betfred Women’s Super League 2021, the venue for the Grand Final, and the schedule for the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, will be published shortly as well as further details of Our League coverage of the competition. The Women’s Championship and League 1 return as grassroots Rugby League alongside the girls’ competitions, with training due to commence from Monday 29 March.