Rugby League reporter @JennaBrooks
A 'lucky escape' for Women's Super League?
Last Updated: 03/04/20 11:47am
Could the Women's Super League be one of the only sports to be given a lucky escape once life goes back to 'normal?'
Given the competition is not yet professional, the financial support needed is much less than the men's competition. Before Covid-19, we never thought we'd be saying it, but could this be a benefit?
St Helens star and England international Jodie Cunningham is not too concerned for the future of the women's game, as coaches and coaching staff are all mainly volunteers and do not necessarily rely on finances to keep the game running.
"We're not funded by Super League, it's all run by the RFL - the Women's Super League," said Cunningham.
"The funding and development money is all via Sport England through to the RFL, so hopefully that support and backing in terms of the structure as a whole is still going to be there."
Last year was a monumental one for the Women's Super League, which launched in 2017.
Betfred became the first title partners when they extended their sponsorship of rugby league to the women's competition.
The funding and development money is all via Sport England through to the RFL, so hopefully that support and backing in terms of the structure as a whole is still going to be there
St Helens player Jodie Cunningham
Last year's Grand Final became the first fixture to be televised live when it was shown on Sky Sports, with coverage available in Australia and France.
And, for the first time, at the inaugural World Cup Nines, players received individual participation fees, which were equal to their male counterparts.
While the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect sports around the world, Cunningham is hoping the women's game can use this time in a positive way.
"I'm confident that the game can come out of this hopefully in a strong position, and kick on where we left off," said Cunningham.
"It's a chance for the whole sport to reset and reflect on what we can do differently and how we can change and make things better."
Could one of those changes be seeing Super League reunite with the RFL, just two years after the split?
Former Leeds and England hooker Lois Forsell, who is now head coach of the Rhinos, was full of praise for the RFL, but believes if the two were to reunite it could only be positive.
"The RFL have taken care of the women's game from day dot, and obviously it would be brilliant to have another organisation on board who are really keen in promoting the game," Forsell said.
The RFL have taken care of the women's game from day dot, and obviously it would be brilliant to have another organisation on board who are really keen in promoting the game
Leeds head coach Lois Forsell
Earlier this year Forsell, alongside St Helens great and England pathways coach Paul Sculthorpe, was given the task of leading the England Women Knights, so naturally she has her sights set on next year's World Cup as well.
"It's the amount of hard work people have put in and the momentum the game was building, the promotion of it, and the standards were getting better and better ahead of 2021," Forsell said.
"I just hope that on the back of Covid-19 there can be some plans in place to get something meaningful done this year and then look to build again ahead of the World Cup.
"It'll mean much more when we come out the other side and we're stood on the eve of the World Cup, and we look at how far we've come to get there."