Crick confident Women’s game will come back stronger in 2021

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 27/07/2019 - Rugby League - Coral Women's Challenge Cup Final - Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers - University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton, England - Leeds Courtney Hill (c) lifts the trophy after victory over Castleford.

Following the announcement of the cancellation of the Women’s Challenge Cup and Betfred Super League competitions due to the Covid-19 healthy crisis, Women’s Team Manager Leon Crick said he is backing his team to stay motivated and the Women’s game to come back stronger for the restart in 2021.

In the last game the Rhinos Women played they added the Super League title to their Challenge Cup honours to cap off an outstanding second season. But the team will now have to wait until next year before they get chance to compete again, with the competition cancelled before a single Super League game had been played.

 “My initial reaction was disappointment,” admitted Crick.  “Mainly for the players who have been raring to go since January when we began pre-season, but we understand that these are unprecedented circumstances and we’ve been in constant communication with the RFL and I know that it’s just not possible to get the competitions in this year.  It’s frustrating but there were just too many obstacles to overcome. 

“After the success last year and the progress we made it’s hard that it will be so long before the team are given chance to defend their title.  I think that’s the toughest bit to take, we finished last year on a massive high and Women’s Super League itself had grown so much in a short space of time that we all felt that 2020 was going to be another huge step forward for us and the sport.  That said, we now get the opportunity to defend both titles in 2021 which is World Cup year and should see another massive growth in the profile of the sport.”

Despite the competition being on hold this year, the Women’s team have continued to train and have been running sessions via Zoom until recently when they have been allowed to meet up in small groups and Crick has been impressed by the players’ dedication during this testing period.

“To be fair, they have trained really hard ever since the end of March when lockdown began as we’ve always been on standby for something to happen,” said the Leeds Team Manager.  “They’ve had weekly plans, online group sessions and more recently, some small group sessions as well.  We now need to look at how we prepare for 2021 and timelines for pre-season, which will help to shape what happens over the next few weeks and months.

“I have confidence in this squad to maintain their motivation and come back strong.  We spoke earlier this year about how in 2019 we kept under the radar and then peaked when we needed to, but how that wouldn’t work again in 2020.  They all rose to the challenge of being on top of the pile and were hungry to stay there and I know they’ll retain that hunger leading into 2021. 

Although this may be a disappointing set back this year, Crick believes that there is still lots to look forward to for the Women’s game, with the competition and the World Cup scheduled to return next year.

“It’s quite a common saying that where there is adversity there is opportunity and this should be no different.  The RFL and all clubs need to look at how we can turn this into a positive and make 2021 a real launchpad for Women’s Rugby League.  With a long break and the opportunity to extend pre-season preparations for next year, hopefully, the whole game can come back fitter and faster in 2021 and enable us to deliver a brilliant product on and off the pitch.”