Rugby League

Womens Super League

6 Apr 2023

All eyes on Headingley for Women's Super League opener

All eyes on Headingley for Women's Super League opener

2022 was a year like no other for women’s rugby league; with England capturing the hearts of the nation in their run to the Rugby League World Cup Semi-Finals, and the incredible Betfred Women’s Super League continuing to grow, the future of the women's game looks very bright. 

This weekend, the latter makes its highly anticipated return as last year’s grand finalists lock horns once more. On Easter Sunday, reigning champions Leeds Rhinos host York Valkyrie as part of a historic double-header at Headingley Stadium.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s meeting, Rhinos head coach Lois Forsell discussed the game, whilst also clearly outlining her ambitions for 2023.

“It’s exciting,” said Forsell.

“The girls have had a long pre-season - we’re excited to go. 

“Yeah, we’re defending our title, but that’s what everyone’s there for. If you win, then that’s your trophy to retain and if someone wants it, they’ve got to work really hard to take it off you. 

"I just want to win all the time. We always want to win, and that's never going to change for a Leeds Rhinos outfit. This year, we can say we want to be out there and win it, and win all of it (a domestic treble). And have a really, really positive year.”

The Rhinos, who defeated Valkyrie 12-4 in last year’s Grand Final thanks to Caitlin Beevers’ brace, have recruited well in the off season. 

New Zealand test star Georgia Hale and England international Amy Hardcastle are two of the club’s most high-profile recruits ahead of 2023, adding quality to an already hugely talented squad featuring the likes of Beevers, Fran Goldthorp, Georgia Roche, Tara Moxon and Sophie Robinson.

However, standing in their way of an opening day victory are one of the division’s strongest teams, York Valkyrie.

Like their Leeds counterparts, York have a squad packed with quality, proven Super League and international players. With the likes of Tara Jane Stanley, Hollie-Mae Dodd, Sinead Peach, Tamzin Renouf and now former Rhino Aimee Staveley all plying their trade at the LNER Community Stadium this season, York are expected to be a force to be reckoned with once again.

“We’re really looking forward to the first game,” said Valkyrie Director of Rugby Lindsay Anfield.

“It’s really high profile with it being against Leeds at Headingley and a re-run of the final last year – it’s given us that little bit more motivation in pre-season, definitely.

“It’s probably the best game we could have had to start the season and get everybody excited about the women’s game, and especially what we’re doing here at York.

Our aim is to put ourselves on the map right at the start of the season and hopefully continue to improve as the season goes on, but Leeds have recruited some of the best players in the world so we can’t underestimate what they’re gonna throw at us, but I’m confident from what we’ve done in pre-season - I’m looking forward to it.”

Leeds Rhinos face York Valkyrie in Round One of the 2023 Betfred Women's Super League on Sunday 9 April. Kick-off is 15:30 at Headingley Stadium, with the match also being shown live on Sky Sports!