Women’s game receives boost from National Lottery’s link with RFL

The Rugby Football League is celebrating a lottery win it says will help the women’s game plot a way through the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Lottery has agreed a commercial partnership with the RFL which will see its branding spread across the sport’s premier men’s and women’s fixtures and will be the title partner for England Women’s mid-season international against Wales at Warrington on Friday, June 25.

No figures have been released but it is said to be a significant amount and officials say it will come from a National Lottery promotional fund, rather than money allocated for National Lottery Good Causes or by Camelot.

Almost the entire Women’s Rugby League season in 2020 was lost to the Covid-19 pandemic which halted the growing momentum of the girls’ and women’s game.

The RFL, which announced the resumption of the Betfred Women’s Super League on April 18, says the size of the girls’ and women’s playing community increased by 53 per cent since it launched the Women’s Super League in 2017.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “The growth of girls’ and women’s rugby league at all levels has been wonderful, which made the impact of over a year of not playing so hard for the players, coaches, volunteers and clubs.

“But we bounce back with this new commercial partnership and, with the support of the National Lottery, and we look forward to kicking off our vibrant domestic competitions, followed by a mid-season international and the excitement of a home World Cup this autumn.

“Our thanks to the National Lottery who share our vision and understand that rugby league changes the lives of the girls and women involved.”

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We’ve been clear that we must continue the push for greater participation, employment, commercial opportunities and visibility in the media for women’s sport.

“This announcement is great news for women’s and girls’ rugby league. As we look ahead to the start of the 2021 professional season, this funding from the National Lottery will provide the sport with certainty as we work towards getting crowds back at matches as soon as possible.”

Nigel Railton, chief executive of National Lottery operator Camelot, said: “Every day, The National Lottery and its players make a huge difference to communities across the UK – and have been doing so since 1994.

“Supporting sports has always been part of the mission of the National Lottery and this inventive partnership will undoubtedly make a difference.

“The loss of spectators and cancellation of events has had such an impact, so I am proud that National Lottery players are able to support rugby league after a difficult year.”

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