THE competitive season is officially over for Bradford Bulls Women and Keighley Cougars Women, after the RFL decided not to restart the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup and to cancel the Betfred Women’s Super League competition in 2020.

But the sport's governing body did announce new training sessions and local friendlies as ways of maintaining momentum in women’s rugby league.

Marc Lovering, Participation and Development Director for the RFL, said: “The cancellation of the competitions is a huge sadness for the players, coaches, volunteers and all of us committed to the continued growth of women’s rugby league, after such high hopes for a best ever season.

“We have taken time to explore every possible option for the competitions. We have been in close dialogue with clubs and foundations throughout the interruption caused by the Covid-19 situation.

“The complex work needed with government and other partners to build return to play strategies in contact sports has meant that full contact rugby league, with rule adaptations, is only likely to return in October – and then only in the form of local friendlies with limited travel.

“We are therefore timed out of delivering these prestigious competitions safely and with integrity.

“Together our focus is on group training activities at clubs leading to the October friendlies and, for the players in the Performance squads, dedicated England training sessions and a programme of support for players and coaches ahead of the start of next season and the World Cup year.

“We will continue to support clubs with training and player recruitment resources. We also remain very grateful to our sponsors at a national and club level for the support they have continued to show women’s rugby league in this challenging and unprecedented time.

“We hope the whole sport shows its support for the women’s friendly fixtures in October, and for the England Performance Squads as they step up their training at this crucial time.”

Clarifying their stance on friendly fixtures, the RFL added: “Under the RFL Return to Play Guidance, all women’s teams have the opportunity to play friendly fixtures in October and a large number have already indicated their plans to do so to the RFL.

“Clubs will be supported by the RFL Development Team to link these activities to player recruitment for season 2021.”