Women’s season cancellation is a ‘huge sadness’ for emerging game
Elite women’s rugby league clubs have been told to prepare for local friendlies this autumn following the Rugby Football League’s decision to cancel its entire female season due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Coral Women’s Challenge Cup has also been called off in a major blow for women’s rugby league which, given its growing profile, formed part of the RFL’s submission to the Government when the sport was granted a £16million emergency loan to help secure its long-term future. England is due to host the World Cup in 2021, for men’s, women’s and wheelchair events.
The RFL was holding out to run a condensed women’s campaign, with a start date between late August and September, but that has now been deemed not feasible.
Marc Lovering, participation and development director at the RFL, said the cancellation was a “huge sadness” after a momentous 2019 season in which Betfred extended its sponsorship from the men’s Super League to the women’s competition. Two new teams, Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves, were also set to join the women’s elite amateur league.
Lovering said: “We have taken time to explore every possible option. We have been in close dialogue with clubs and foundations throughout the interruption caused by the Covid-19 situation.
“The complex work needed with Government and other partners to build return-to-play strategies in contact sports has meant that fullcontact rugby league, with rule adaptations, is only likely to return in October – and then only in the form of local friendlies with limited travel,” he added. “We are therefore timed out of delivering these prestigious competitions safely and with integrity.”
Defeated: The RFL’s Marc Lovering said hopes of getting the women’s season started had run out of time