England Women’s head coach Craig Richards has backed changed to the Women’s Super League that will see an expanded competition played across two tiers in 2022.
Barrow Raiders and Leigh Miners Rangers, who finished first and second in the Championship this year, have both been elevated to Super League – taking the competition to twelve clubs.
But in a major difference to previous years, the teams that finished in the top five in 2021 – St Helens, Leeds Rhinos, York City Knights, Castleford Tigers and Wigan Warriors – joined by Shield winners Huddersfield Giants, will contest Tier One. The remaining clubs – Featherstone Rovers, Warrington Wolves, Bradford Bulls and Wakefield Trinity will join the two newcomers in Tier Two.
Each tier will play out a ten-round season facing each other home and away, with play-offs to follow and there will be a one-up, one-down promotion and relegation system between the two tiers.
For Richards, whilst he knows some teams will be disappointed not to feature in Tier One, the new format is going to ramp up the intensity of the season for those leading players looking for international success in the World Cup.
“From an England perspective, one of the things we have always spoken about is the need to get the Women’s Super League as intense, quick and as tight as possible,” he explained.
“This new structure potentially gives us that, because the top players will be getting that intensity every week and hopefully we won’t see as many of the blowout scores that we saw this year.
“We’re always looking to add to the England squad and for those players on the fringe this will really give them an opportunity every week to go out and show what they can do and push some of the other girls that are currently in the squad. If you can do that against top six sides on a regular basis, it will show that you can be up there.
“Some teams will be upset that they’re not in the top six, but it could be an opportunity for them and others to take a breath, regroup and get themselves in a position to come up and be stronger than they were before.”
The fixture list for the 2022 competition, and details of Grand Finals Day, will be published in the coming months, in addition to arrangements for the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup for 2022, and with consideration being given to the possibility of a Nines tournament.
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