Women’s Community Challenge Cup winners stripped of title for fielding ineligible player

James Gordon
Featherstone stadium

The Millennium Stadium, Featherstone

West Leeds have been awarded the 2022 WRLA Challenge Cup title, after winners Featherstone Lionesses were found to have played an ineligible player.

The Lionesses won the game, which was streamed live on the Our League app, at the Millennium Stadium in Featherstone back in April 24-10.

Shortly afterwards, the Women’s Rugby League Association (WRLA) were informed that an unregistered player had featured in the final.

WRLA commenced enquiries into the allegation and found that that club had in fact played an unregistered player, and following advice commenced a disciplinary case against the club, who were informed of proceedings against them and later given a date when the case would be heard.

There was no response from the club and on the date of the proceedings no-one from Featherstone Lionesses were present and they were found guilty in their absence.

The match has now been awarded to West Leeds as a 24-0 victory.

WRLA Chair Steve Manning, said: “Firstly I would like to congratulate West Leeds Ladies on winning the 2022 WRLA Challenge Cup although the whole circumstances leave a bitter taste within WRLA when from the beginning of the allegation and subsequent enquiry no-one from the Lionesses, who are part of the Featherstone Lions ARLFC club contacted us.

“On the evening prior to the final through speaking to the Lionesses coaching staff WRLA were aware of their problems with the player squad and up to the final itself worked with them with the information they gave us.

“Sadly their coaches decided to field an unregistered player playing under an assumed name so they had a seventeen player squad on the day.

“The coaches and some of the players who played in that final have now moved on to Super League clubs and whatever happens next is an issue for that club. Although feeling sorry for the current Featherstone Lionesses who are playing this summer WRLA had to act for the integrity of WRLA, the Women’s game as a whole and took no pleasure in making the decisions we had to make regarding this matter.

“It’s such a shame that the first ever live streaming of a WRLA Challenge Cup Final as ended up finishing in these sad circumstances. WRLA are now arranging to present the Challenge Cup. The matter is now closed.”

The Lionesses were also fined £100, suspended for 12 months. The WRLA gave opportunity to appeal, but no-one from the club has responded.

The WRLA Challenge Cup is for women’s teams in the community game.

It is not to be confused with the RFL’s Challenge Cup competition, which has grown from strength to strength in recent years since its inception in 2012.

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