If Cardiff Demons need any extra motivation for Sunday’s Betfred Women’s Super League South (BWSLS) Grand Final against the British Army, it goes by the name of Shaunni Davies.
Davies was injured towards the end of the Demons’ 38-20 semi-final defeat of London Broncos and Cardiff will travel to Ealing Trailfinders without their inspirational skipper but hoping to lift the inaugural BWSLS trophy in her honour.
Standing in their way are a talented and powerful British Army side, who demolished Gloucestershire’s Golden Ferns 110-0 in the other semi-final. The Army team is made up of players from all over the UK, including Welsh international Jess McAuley who this year featured in the first ever Wales versus England Rugby League game alongside many of the Cardiff Demons squad.
The two sides have emerged from a six-team competition – also involving Bedford Tigers and Cornish Rebels – launched this year to complement the existing Betfred Women’s Super League, Championship and League 1 competitions in the north of England.
Marc Lovering, the RFL’s Director of Participation and Development, says: “Congratulations and best wishes to our finalists – Sunday’s Grand Final is a mouth-watering prospect. Just as the introduction of the Women’s Super League in 2017 raised the profile of the women’s game and opened up a world of possibilities, the Betfred Women’s Super League South is now having a similar impact.”
Launched this year, Cardiff Demons are run by Wales Rugby League, adopting all the same tactical and technical standards as the national team at their University of South Wales base. Head coach Ian Newbury says: “We’re looking forward to Sunday’s match, we know it’s going to be a hard battle. We’ve watched the Army’s matches against Golden Ferns and London Broncos, and they beat both quite convincingly. We know that they’re going to come with a lot of fire power. They’re a well-equipped side so we’re under no doubt that it’s going to be a tough game.
“In terms of what we’re doing it for, obviously we lost Shaunni through injury in the last game and that’s a big motivator for the girls – to win for her. But it’s our first season, we’ve got to this point, it’s a really big occasion for the club and for them, and we’re looking forward to taking it out there and pushing them as far as we can.”
The British Army is already well established in Women’s Rugby League with an impressive pedigree and strong track record. Head coach, Warrant Officer Class 2 Warren Broadley, adds: “I’m immensely proud of the team reaching the final under such tough circumstances, with several players unavailable due to deployments, overseas exercises, career courses, supporting COVID operations and with the Army Sports Control Board restricting us to just one training session before a game.
“The team are in good shape and looking confident ahead of the biggest game in Army Rugby League Women’s history. Win or lose, the competition has been a fantastic success in growing women’s RL in the south.”
Sunday’s BWSL Grand Final is part of a double-header at London Broncos’ Ealing Trailfinders home, which also features the Broncos v Sheffield Eagles at 3pm. Tickets are available online via the London Broncos website. The BSWL Grand Final will also be streamed live on Our League and Twitch.TV from 12.15pm. Joining regular commentator Dave Parkinson will be the St Helens, England and former British Army player Carrie Roberts.
While Roberts’s St Helens side enjoy a blank weekend, York City Knights and Leeds Rhinos go head-to-head in the Betfred Women’s Super League at 5.15pm, also live on Our League. The fixture is part of a double-header featuring York City Knights versus Bradford Bulls in the Betfred Championship at 3pm. Capacity at the LNER Stadium has now been increased to 4,000 and tickets, priced £20 (adults) and £15 (concessions) are available via the York City Knights website. Entry for under 16s is free.