St Helens launch their defence of the Betfred Women’s Super League title against their old local rivals Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium today – with the development of Women’s Rugby League continuing apace.
Last weekend’s Challenge Cup Final between Saints and Leeds at Elland Road was watched by a record attendance of 5,888 for a Women’s Rugby League game in this country – and a peak viewing figure on BBC2 of more than 300,000.
That has been followed by the launch of a first magazine programme dedicated to Women’s Rugby League this week by The Sportsman The Women's Rugby League Show – who will also provide live coverage of the Saints-Wigan opener on their YouTube channel.
There will be another first in the BWSL today as the competition breaks new ground in Cumbria, with Amanda Wilkinson’s Barrow Raiders facing tough opposition from Warrington Wolves in their first game since earning promotion to the elite – a game that will be played before the Raiders men’s team take on Workington Town in a Cumbrian clash in the Betfred Championship, at the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium. Tickets are available here.
And for readers of a certain age who remember Barrow’s home ground by its original name, there’s a pleasing link to the other Craven Park on the east coast almost 200 miles drive away, now known as Sewell Group Craven Park – which will be the setting for an historic Hull Women’s Rugby League derby.
Strangely, given the passion for Rugby League in the city, Hull has so far been absent from the development of the BWSL – but both Hull KR and Hull FC are keen to make up for lost time Inaugural derby will be a proud day for Hull KR women's captain Aaliyah Brewster.
The theme of geographical expansion continues with the Betfred Women’s Super League South, with London Broncos preparing to host newcomers Oxford Cavaliers next weekend.
And the focus will soon turn from domestic matters to international, with England Women facing France at Warrington next month to continue their preparations for this autumn’s Rugby League World Cup.