Castleford Tigers Women gear up for Cup Final
Posted: Thursday 25th July 2019 - 4:51 PM
It’s a repeat of the 2018 final, it’s part of an historic Rugby League triple-header alongside the men’s Coral Challenge Cup semi-finals – and it’s being broadcast live on the BBC's interactive Red Button service and on BBC Sport Online.
Saturday’s Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final between Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos at the University of Bolton Stadium will be the biggest occasion the women’s game has witnessed in this country to date.
Women’s Super League leaders Castleford Tigers are out to avenge last year’s 20-14 defeat at the hands of their west Yorkshire rivals, while Leeds Rhinos are keen to become the first team to get their hands on a brand new trophy – the first one commissioned by the RFL specifically for the women’s game.
Interest in the women’s game is soaring, with Castleford Tigers breaking attendance records and national media this week focusing on the final and key personalities such as Courtney Hill and Hollie-Mae Dodd.
“It's going to be a great day”, says Leeds Rhinos skipper Hill, who kicked a crucial touchline conversion during her side’s semi-final win at St Helens. “The RFL are putting on multiple games at a lovely venue, it looks fantastic and I hope the crowds roll in early for our game."
Leeds’ 2018 triumph came in their very first season as a Super League outfit, but it was the Tigers who came out on top when the sides last met at the Mend-a-hose Jungle earlier this season – a 27-0 rout serving notice of Castleford’s intent in 2019.
And Cas come into the game with the best form they could have hoped for – unbeaten in all competitions this season, and on the back of having despatched neighbours Wakefield Trinity in style in recent weeks in both the Super League and the Coral Challenge Cup.
“In games recently we've been composed and not put any pressure on ourselves, and just allowed ourselves to play how we play”, explains Castleford’s Sinead Peach. “We aren't going to go away from that just because we're playing in a final, we don't want to overthink it. We're just happy to play how Castleford Tigers play.
“This weekend is massive for Women's Rugby League” adds Peach. “All the girls are really excited by it. The Castleford supporters always get behind the girls and everyone is really buzzing, it motivates you going out on to the pitch."
Leeds may have seen off St Helens in the semi-final but the Saints gained swift revenge last week, turning over their cup conquerors 30-16 in the Women’s Super League at the Emerald Headingley Stadium.
But Leeds Rhinos Head Coach, Adam Cuthbertson, is looking forwards not back. “The competition between Cas’ and ourselves is building up to a really good match” says Cuthbertson. “It’s very exciting – even more so now we’re playing on the same day as the men’s semi-finals at a brilliant ground like the University of Bolton Stadium.
“What’s going on now in the women’s game is outstanding, it’s putting the game on the map. The RFL is getting behind the game, clubs are streaming matches, the RFL is showing it on the Our League app. The girls are a real advert for the game.”
The Women’s Challenge Cup Final between Leeds and Castleford kicks off at 11.15am on Saturday at the University of Bolton Stadium, and will be followed by the two men’s semi-final fixtures.
The design of the new women’s trophy adopts elements of the traditional men’s version, such as its fluted top and adorning angel (please see attachments), within a more contemporary overall design.
“It is right and fitting that the growth in the women’s game should be reflected by a magnificent new trophy such as this one”, says Simon Johnson, who was this week appointed Interim Chair of the Rugby Football League. “We have a fantastic final to look forward to and either Castleford Tigers or Leeds Rhinos will be the first to get their hands on what is a strikingly beautiful piece of silverware.”
Joining Simon Johnson as part of the official presentation party for the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final are: RFL Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer; Rugby League Hall of Fame member and former England international Natalie Gilmour MBE, who captained her country in two world cups; Jade Clarke, the most-capped England netball player of all time and a medal winner at the recent Vitality Netball World Cup; and Adrian Osman, Head of Sponsorship and Events, Coral.
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