The RFL has reaffirmed the importance of maintaining the momentum of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League despite the frustrating interruption enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stuart Barrow, the National Women and Girls’ Talent Manager, hosted a webinar last week specifically for coaches of female teams – and work is continuing behind the scenes to try and find a way for the Betfred Women’s Super League to resume later in the year.
“It’s been such a frustrating time for everyone involved with Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League, as in all other areas of the game,” said Barrow.
“We ended 2019 on a real high, with title sponsors for the BWSL and the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup, more media coverage than ever including live Sky coverage of the BWSL Grand Final, and our England Women making two groundbreaking trips to the Southern Hemisphere to play in the World Nines and then go to Papua New Guinea.
“Everyone was excited to go to another level in 2020 with the expansion of the BWSL to 10 teams, and we’d had a great start to the year with the three Origin matches in February which were arranged with a specific focus on the huge opportunity we have to boost the profile of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League in this country in next year’s World Cup.
“Then it all came crashing to the halt just as the Challenge Cup was getting underway, and we were looking forward to the start of the Super League.
“As soon as that happened, there was a focus at the RFL on doing everything we can to make sure we don’t lose momentum.
“Craig Richards has been arranging regular meetings with the England Women Performance Squad and the new England Knights set-up, and there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure we can hit the ground running at club and international level.
“We also felt it was important to offer something to the growing number of coaches involved in the Women’s and Girls’ game, which is why we arranged the webinar.
“We talked about the challenges of coaching mixed ability groups, which is especially relevant in the girls’ game as it’s played in two-year age brackets – under-12s, under-14s, under-16s, and after that open age.
“Throw in the fact that the game is attracting lots of new players who have no knowledge or experience, and it can be difficult to keep challenging our better performers whilst developing the lesser ability players.
“There are a few tricks to work around these issues, whether through small sided games , or manipulation of practice size space and time. Peer mentoring can be important in developing and reinforcing learning , and it’s also good to increase the amount of decisions the players make under pressure.”
Barrow and the RFL team are working closely with Sport England, with hopes of further loosening of the current regulations regarding training sessions in the community game which would be another major step towards the return of competitive action for Women and Girls.
The RFL has delivered a number of webinars through the Lockdown period to various groups of coaches, and the England Head Coach Shaun Wane will deliver a second session specifically to coaches of Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs this Wednesday.