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  • Writer's pictureLondon Broncos Ladies

New Women's Super League Structure for 2024

Updated: May 14

The RFL's restructure of the women’s competition will launch for the 2024 season and onwards

The plan is part of an ongoing strategy to grow the women’s game, which continues following the Women’s 2021 World Cup, which was played at the end of last year.

These changes will affect all levels of women's rugby league, from Super League to the community game. For London Broncos, it means a direct pathway to promotion will now be available.

Previously, two groups of six teams made up the Women’s Super League, with a separate Women’s Super League South competition for top tier teams in the South. London Broncos were the 2023 WSLS Champions, beating Cardiff Demons who were back-to-back champions the two seasons prior.

On 31 January 2023, the RFL announced a new national pyramid structure for the women's game, and confirmed that the 2023 season would be the Women's Super League South's last as a top tier competition.

It will be replaced by a regional equivalent and become a second tier competition, rebranded as Southern Women's Championship, alongside 3 other regions; Northern, Midlands & Roses, to make up the National Championships.

With this, will be the introduction of a playoff system giving opportunity for promotion from these leagues to the RFL Women's Super League. The team crowned as national champions from the regional winners will play the Super League team finishing bottom of the table for the chance to be promoted, subject to new, to-be-announced, criteria for top-division clubs. Those minimum standards for the Women’s Super League will include payments for players, which some clubs have already committed to from 2023.

There will be a new, national, eight-team Women’s Super League competition; the top tier of the pyramid structure, with localised, regional and community leagues sitting in the third tier and below.

The top tier will consist of the six teams from group 1 of the 2023 Women’s Super League - Huddersfield, Leeds, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan and York - plus two teams from group 2 who competed in play-offs to secure their positions; Barrow Raiders and Featherstone Rovers.

The four remaining sides will join the National Championship; the regional structure at tier 2, which aims to have four leagues of up to eight teams. Beneath the tier two regional leagues will be further localised competitions at tier three, to be introduced as the game develops and demand grows. This will be a mix of leagues, merit competitions and festivals, with promotion and relegation to be confirmed.

The Women’s Super League will have a four-team play-off from 2024, going in to a straight semi-final between 1st and 4th, and 2nd and 3rd, with the two winners then meeting in a Grand Final to decide the Women’s Champions.

National pyramid & Expansion startegy for the women’s game

“National expansion has been part of our strategy for Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League since the introduction of the Women’s Super League in 2017,” said Thomas Brindle, the RFL’s Head of Growth and General Manager of the Women’s Super League.

“We have already seen the benefits in the two seasons of the Women’s Super League South, in terms of talented athletes from different parts of the country who can enhance the England programmes, and also in the development of Wales as international rivals to England. 

“Now, on the back of the Rugby League World Cup last autumn, which drove unprecedented media coverage and awareness for Women’s Rugby League, we are excited by the introduction of a national pyramid for 2024, providing a possible route to elite competition for players and clubs from all parts of the country.”

Brindle added that junior programmes will support the new structure of the adult game as the RFL looks to increase interest in the sport by growing participation.

“All of the regional leagues will be underpinned by girls’ future hubs at under-14s and under-16s level, and a separate programme aimed at girls aged 7-11,” he added.

Jodie Cunningham, the St Helens and England star who is the RFL’s National Women and Girls’ Development Manager, added: “The Women’s Super League South is such an important part of our plans for the development and growth of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.

“The six teams who have played in the first two seasons of the competition have shown so much enthusiasm and passion for the sport."

There has been a 214% growth in the numbers of girls teams since the RFL embarked on their current strategy in 2017.

Stats from the Women's Game (2023):

  • 227 Women’s and Girls RL teams - 80 women’s teams & 145 girls' teams

  • 424 Players on a Talent Pathway

  • 13 games broadcasted in 2023 on Sky Sports and BBC Two/Red Button



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