Could we see a woman take charge of a men’s Super League team?

Sebastian Sternik

We can’t be long away from a female coach being linked with a job in the men’s Super League.

The talk of women taking over management roles in men’s sport is nothing new.

However, speculation has grown over recent days that Chelsea football club could become the first Premier League side to hire a female manager with Emma Hayes linked with the job.

Rumours are, at the end of the day, just rumours but, the fact that a woman has been linked with such a high-profile position shows how close we are to seeing this come to fruition.

But what about rugby league? Could we ever see a female coach take charge of a men’s team in the Super League?

At the moment, the best place to find female coaching talent is in the Women’s Super League.

The defending champions in the women’s game are the Wigan Warriors and they’re led by Amanda Wilkinson.

Back in 2014, Wilkinson became the first female Level 3-qualified coach in the history of the sport (one of the highest coaching qualifications available in Rugby League).

What’s more, she is no stranger to the men’s game having previously worked with all age groups at Milford Marlins and the Leeds Rhinos scholarship team.

During her time with the Rhinos, Wilkinson worked closely with current Sydney Roosters star Ryan Hall.

A few years ago the former Barrow Ladies player told loverugbyleague: “Ryan Hall was one of my scholarship players and I did a lot of one-to-one work with him, looking at videos of his technique.

“Although my work with him might represent one percent of all the coaching time he has had, it is rewarding to see him as one of the best players in the world.”

The current league leaders in the Women’s Super League are the Castleford Tigers and they’re led by Lindsay Anfield.

The Tigers boss recently became the second female coach to hold a Level-3 qualification and is enjoying an unbeaten start to the 2019 season.

Anfield is a former England international and has gone on to coach Yorkshire and the England students. What’s more, she is the current assistant England women’s coach.

With so much playing and coaching experience under her belt, could we one day see the Tigresses coach working in the men’s game?

And finally, what about the Bradford Bulls duo in Beth Sutcliffe and Kirsty Moroney.

Bradford struggled in 2018 following the loss of almost half their squad. The 2019 season saw Sutcliffe and Moroney appointed as joint-head coaches following the end of their playing careers.

Since their take over, the Bradford Bulls women are once again considered a serious threat with the team currently sitting second in the Super League table.

What’s more, the pair are also working closely with the men’s scholarship side as they look to gain additional coaching experience.

Women’s football has had a lot more time to flourish than women’s rugby league therefore it’s not always fair comparing the two sports.

However, with regards to the argument of whether we will ever see a woman take a high-profile coaching position in the men’s game, the answer is surely not ‘if’ but ‘when’.

Equality is not only a political issue but it is something taken ever more seriously in the sports world. The likes of Jodie Cunningham and Lois Forsell have been making regular television appearances as Sky Sports and the BBC look to be more representative.

Who’s to say this cannot happen with regards to management.