Sheffield Eagles the next women’s side to make pay pledge ahead of first Challenge Cup campaign

SHEFFIELD will join the list of clubs paying their women’s players this year, as they prepare to make their Challenge Cup bow.

The Eagles only formed their women’s division in 2021 and will play in the second tier, under the eight-team Super League in a restructured league system, this season.

But they have vowed to join the likes of WSL frontrunners York and Leeds, who took the historic step only a year ago, by financially rewarding their players for on-field success.

“Last year we set out our ‘#OneClub’ approach with our women’s and wheelchair teams playing in the same kits and playing their games at Olympic Legacy Park,” said Sheffield’s director of rugby, Mark Aston.

“The team have had two years of success and, because we can use the stadium for women’s games to generate additional revenue, we have been able to move forward in financially rewarding the women for their on-field success and commitment to the club.”

Sheffield, whose club development officer is England great and recent RFL Roll of Honour inductee Andrea Dobson, have also struck up a dual-registration partnership with WSL champions York, whose players are now on professional contracts.

An open trial for prospective players will be held at the Eagles’ Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park training ground on Wednesday, January 10 – the same date they will discover their Challenge Cup opponents.

The Women’s Challenge Cup will follow the same format as last season, with a 16-team group stage (four groups of four and round-robin fixtures) determining who reaches the quarter-finals and begins the knockout journey to a Wembley final.

Sheffield are the only newcomers to the competition and will be in pot four for the seeded draw, live on BBC Radio Merseyside (time TBC), alongside Cardiff, Hull KR and London.

Holders St Helens are in pot one alongside Leeds, Wigan and York, while the other four WSL sides – Barrow, Featherstone, Huddersfield and Warrington – are in pot two.

Pot three will consist of Bradford, Castleford, Leigh and Salford, with group-stage fixtures taking place on the weekends of March 16-17, 22-23 and April 6-7.