Leeds to become first English club to pay women’s team

Drew Darbyshire
Sophie Robinson Leeds Rhinos Women's Super League champions SWpix

Photo: John Clifton/SWpix

Women’s Super League champions Leeds will become the first team in England to financially reward their players for their efforts in 2023.

The Rhinos won a second Grand Final in four seasons in 2022; and are looking to expand the women’s operation in 2023. This will include a winning bonus for each game next season, along with meritocratic payments for success in the Challenge Cup and Grand Final competitions; with the hope of contracting experienced players to value their contribution to the women’s and girls’ game in Leeds

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “The Leeds Rhinos women’s team are an integral part of our club. We are keen to see them progress as well as inspiring more woman and girls in Leeds to play rugby league.

“There have been huge strides made in the women’s game in this country over the last five years. We hope we can move forward even further over the next five years.”

Caitlin Beevers Leeds Rhinos women SWpix
Photo: John Clifton/SWpix


Payments part of Leeds strategy to make women’s game professional

The Rhinos’ move in 2023 is the second phase of the club’s strategy towards a professional women’s rugby league team. Phase one included further medical and sport science support with a women’s team doctor, private scans, additional physio support and an enhanced sport science programme that resulted in the Rhinos making both major finals last season.

Also as part of phase one, the club paid the women’s players for their time and commitment to promote the game for media and commercial appearances. They also contributed towards expenses for players travelling a significant distance and provided equipment such as boosts, gym wear and gumshields.

Phase two looks to bolster their strategy towards professionalising the women’s game with payment towards players.

Rhinos coach Lois Forsell said: “It’s great to see the growth and development of the women’s programme at Leeds Rhinos since 2018.

“Year on year it has grown, the club have big ambitions. These steps are all positive ones in the right direction that look to grow the game sustainably.”

Headingley will host the opening game of the Women’s Rugby League World Cup on Tuesday, November 1. A historic double-header will see hosts England take on Brazil, followed by Papua New Guinea’s clash with Canada.

The Rhinos have seven players in the England squad for the World Cup. Tara Moxon is in the Papua New Guinea Orchids squad.

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