The RFL held a virtual meeting with representatives of the 10 BWSL teams on Tuesday evening to discuss possible scenarios for shortened seasons beginning in late August or September – depending on the public health situation and Government advice.
Initial contingency planning based on a season suspension of between 12 and 16 weeks had been shared with the teams in late March, when the 2020 season had been due to start.
However that planning has now been updated to provide possible scenarios for shortened seasons beginning in late August or September – depending on the public health situation and Government advice.
The scenarios would involve a mini pre-season of three or four weeks, and a Grand Final no later than November, with a desire not to undermine the preparations of the England Women squad ahead of hosting the Rugby League World Cup in the autumn of 2021. The BWSL Grand Final had been scheduled for Emerald Headingley on October 11.
The Coral Women’s Challenge Cup, which had reached the Second Round stage before the season suspension, also remains in all contingency planning – although the final is now unlikely to be played as part of a triple header with the men’s Coral Challenge Cup semi finals, as had been due to take place at the University of Bolton Stadium on June 6.
England Women head coach Craig Richards will announce an updated Performance Squad (EWPS) on Thursday, when the first England Women Knights Performance Squad (EWKPS) will also be named.
The BWSL teams will meet again for a further update in June, and the RFL will hold equivalent discussions with representatives from the Women’s Championship and League 1.
Thomas Brindle, the General Manager of the BWSL, said: “The Betfred Women’s Super League combines an increasingly elite on and off-field approach with a community game framework, so the feasibility of beginning the 2020 season will depend first on the Government’s social distancing guidelines and the ability of players to return to training, rather than the Behind Closed Doors arrangements for broadcast sport.
“The current situation is obviously frustrating for everyone who has contributed to the development of the BWSL since it was launched in 2016, and to women’s and girls’ Rugby League. But we have to recognise the priority of public health, while doing all we can to maintain that momentum – and we continue to work towards a rescheduled BWSL and also the Championship, League 1 and the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup.
“The selection of the England Women Performance Squad and a first Women’s Knights squad this week will also provide a focus for our elite players as they continue to look forward to next year’s World Cup.”
The RFL has also begun the next in the series of Rugby League Impact Reports, following the successful Rugby League Dividend Report; this new report will focus on the wider social impacts of the growth to date in Women’s Rugby League.