Mid-season rule change costs Huddersfield Women Super League status

Sebastian Sternik

Huddersfield Giants Women have been left “very frustrated” by a rule change which has denied them Women’s Super League status. 

Last season, Huddersfield launched a women’s U19s side with an ambition of building a team for the 2019 Super League season.

Head coach Steve Stead said: “We ran an U19s team last year as we tried to build a player pool in the local area before we actually went into the Super League.

“We made an application [to enter the league] but unfortunately a change in criteria mid-season meant we were no longer eligible.”

Before the rule change, Huddersfield would have been able to join the Super League on the basis that they had an U19s team. However, the change meant that was no longer enough. 

The change which was implemented half way through the 2018 campaign, now requires potential applicants to have played in the Women’s Championship for at least a year. 

With regards to the mid-season rule change, Stead said: “It was very frustrating but we’re going to take the positives out of it. We’re a team that’s been together for a year now and we can develop even further over the next 12 months.

“Hopefully we can go into the Super League with a bit of confidence after playing a full season and also getting some wins under our belt in the Championship.”

Despite going into the second tier, Stead is expecting tough games in what is expected to be a very tough league. 

He said: “We’re not expecting it to be easy. You have the likes of Hull FC, Widnes and potentially Warrington. There’s also amateur teams like Stanningley and Leigh Miners who are all very good sides. It’s a tough league but I’m confident in our ability.”

Last season, Huddersfield brought in a number of players from their England Talent Pathway programme. Stead is hoping to see similar progress saying: “We’ve seen girls come through the pathway into our U19s team. Hopefully we can get some of the girls from the pathway into our open age team as well.”

The head coach also had a lot of praise for the Giants foundation which runs the women’s team. He said: The work we do is second to none. I really do think we’ve got one of the best programmes around for girls in this area -certainly one of the best pathways.”

Huddersfield now await the release of fixture for the 2019 Championship campaign. The season is set to get underway in April.