12th January 2020, 10:00 | womens_super_league
Emerald Headingley will stage the Grand Final of the 2020 Betfred Women’s Super League in October – the climax of a season which has been restructured to provide more intense competition, especially in the closing weeks.
The BWSL has expanded for the third consecutive year since the competition was launched in 2017, with the introduction of Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves producing a 10-team league - a 150% increase on the original pilot four-team competition.
As a result of that expansion, in 2020 the BWSL will split after nine rounds in mid-July, when all 10 teams have played each other once.
The top four will then contest the Betfred Women’s Super League Play-Offs – playing each other home and away to provide another six fixtures – with the top two qualifying for the Grand Final at Emerald Headingley on Sunday October 11.
That will again produce a bumper Grand Final weekend, as it follows the Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday October 10.
The bottom six will contest the Betfred Women’s Super League Shield, playing each other once to provide another five fixtures, leading to semi finals and the Shield Final which will also be played at Emerald Headingley on Sunday October 11, as the first part of a double-header.
*Points from the first part of the season before the split will carry over into both the Play-Offs and the Shield.
The 2020 BWSL season will begin on Sunday March 29 with a full round of five fixtures. Leeds Rhinos will launch their title defence against local rivals Bradford Bulls in a match that has been selected for live coverage on the RFL’s Our League platform, while Warrington’s Super League debut will be a local derby against Wigan Warriors, the 2018 champions.
St Helens will play Castleford Tigers in a heavyweight meeting of the top two from last season’s final table, while there will be another West Yorkshire derby between Featherstone Rovers and Wakefield Trinity – and Huddersfield, whose application for promotion from the Women’s Championship was accepted with that of Warrington, will travel to York City Knights in their first Super League fixture.
Leeds will stage a repeat of the 2019 Grand Final against Castleford in Round Five on May 31.
A full schedule of BWSL fixtures to be streamed live on Our League will be announced shortly.
Thomas Brindle, the RFL’s Head of Growth who is the BWSL General Manager, said: “As the Betfred Women’s Super League grows in size and profile, the announcement of the fixture list becomes a more significant moment in the domestic Rugby League calendar every year.
“In 2020 we welcome two new clubs in Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves, both of whom were approved for promotion because of what they can bring to the competition and the Women’s and Girls’ game as a whole.
“After going out to tender in 2019, we committed to staging the Grand Final at Emerald Headingley for three seasons – 2019, 2020 and 2021.
“Logistics surrounding the involvement of England Women in the World Nines and the availability of Emerald Headingley led to a switch to the Totally Wicked Stadium, and we should place on record again our gratitude to St Helens who were outstanding hosts of the 2019 Grand Final.
“Now we revert to the remaining two years of our agreement with Emerald Headingley - an outstanding Rugby League stadium, which will be also be a leading venue in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in 2021.
“It is the home of the champions, and doubtless Leeds Rhinos will already have their sights set on defending their title on home territory. But as we saw last year, when Leeds came from third in the final table by winning at St Helens and then beating Castleford in the Grand Final at the Totally Wicked Stadium, the competition will be fierce and unpredictable.
“The RFL BWSL management committee have taken the decision to split the competition after nine rounds to increase the intensity of that competition in late summer and early autumn, especially between the top four teams as they battle to reach the Grand Final – a decision which has also been welcomed by the England Performance Unit who believe it will benefit the elite women players in their preparations for the World Cup.”