Why 2022 Is The Year Of Women’s Rugby League

An already-thrilling start to the rugby league season is set to go up a gear when the women's game returns this weekend
07:00, 08 Mar 2022

It’s already been a high octane start to the 2022 Rugby League season, and it’s set to go up another gear again with the start of the Women’s season, which begins this weekend, and ends at Old Trafford.

After seeing the 2020 season cancelled before it was start due to the pandemic, the women’s game came back with a bang in 2021 breaking boundaries and records as St Helens romped to a remarkable treble.

The first of those trophy lifts for Saints came live on BBC Sport as they lifted the Betfred Challenge Cup at Leigh as part of a double header. The TV camera’s would be there to capture the drama throughout the season, with Sky Sports showing their first even Women’s international as Craig Richard’s side put in a dominant performance against Wales.

Sky were also there in October to bring us the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final as St Helens completed the set after clinching the League Leaders shield, in front of a record crowd of 4235 at Headingley.

The coverage will increase again in 2022, with Sky Sports set to show 5 live games from the Women’s Super League, whilst BBC Sport show every single game of the World Cup.

We’ll also bringing you live Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup and Super League fixtures right here on TheSportsman, as part of our package of 20 live fixtures across the season.

The action gets underway this weekend with the return of the Challenge Cup in it’s new format. 16 teams will compete in four groups of four, with the top two from each qualifying for the quarter-finals.

The final will once again form part of a triple header with the semi-finals of the men’s competition taking place at Elland Road on the 7th May.

A week later, the Betfred Women’s Super League kicks-off, also with a new format for 2022.

The BWSL has expanded to 12 teams for the new season, a growth of 200% from when it was launched in 2017, with Barrow Raiders and Leigh Miners Rangers joining the party.

The league will be split into two groups of six, the two newcomers will join Warrington Wolves, Wakefield Trinity, Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls to compete for the Betfred Women’s Super League shield, with the top 4 progressing to the semi-finals.

The top five from 2021; St Helens, York City Knights, Castleford Tigers, Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos will be joined by 2021 Shield winners, Huddersfield Giants, with top four after 10 rounds going on to compete for the Betfred Women’s Super League title.

The Women’s Super League South competition will also return in 2022, with Cardiff Demons looking to defend the title they won in the inaugural season.

Once the domestic season is in the books, a landmark year for Women’s Rugby League will conclude on the biggest stage of all – the World Cup.

Rugby League is breaking new ground in 2022, with the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair competitions all taking place at the same time with equal billing.

Craig Richard’s England side will kick of their home-soil campaign against Brazil as part of a double header, with Papua New Guinea and Canada taking the floor after.

A number of group games have been doubled with games from the men’s competition, before the semi-finals, which will both take place on the same day at The LNER Stadium, home of the York City Knights.

History will be made a week later when Women’s Rugby League takes centre stage at the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford, for the World Cup Final.

It’s hard to not to feel a buzz of excitement and optimism around the start of the women’s season. The sport is unrecognisable from when the Women’s Super League structure was first put in place in 2017, and the standard has never been higher.

There’s never been a better chance to inspire the next generation of players either. More games than ever, more of those on TV, played in big stadiums in front of good crowds.

We’ve seen the emergence of a raft of new heroes of the Women’s game in recent years, such as Jodie Cunningham, Courtney Winfield-Hill and Amy Hardcastle (Just to name a few), and I’ve no doubt that that list will grow tenfold this season.

It’s a massive year for the sport as whole, but it truly feels like the start of the next chapter in Women’s rugby league. The legacy of 2022 will be felt for years to come.

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