Warrington Wolves captain Michelle Davis believes that women’s rugby is the real winner ahead of the sports return next month.
The RFL Women’s Super League will make its long awaited return on the 18th of April after an 18 month absence and Michelle Davis cannot wait for the sports return.
“I don’t even think words can describe how excited I am to get back to playing rugby, it’s a good thing to be back training but I cannot wait until we are playing rugby fully”
Struggles of the Pandemic
The Warrington and England Fullback has admitted that this seasons main target is just to rebuild after the pandemic.
Davis said: “I think this year for us is just about going out and playing rugby. We’ve decided not to put any pressure on ourselves as this season is about rebuilding and gelling the team”
She added: “Covid has brought a few changes for us, so we just want to get out there and play rugby our way”
The COVID-19 pandemic hit women’s rugby hard and getting the sport back up and running has been a challenge. Davis admits that the hard work behind the scenes has made the return a lot easier.
“I want to say a huge thank you to our coaches and staff for making it possible. There is a lot of background work that goes on so the team can just turn up, be tested then train and it as made it pretty stress free”
She added: “I think it has been a pretty tough time for people to get back into rugby. Some girls are worried about fitness and about the contact aspect but in a way the Covid restrictions have helped ease those fears and so the training sessions have been massively productive”
Despite putting emphasis on going through a rebuilding phase, Davis admits that the team want to be challenging.
“That doesn’t mean that we won’t be challenging ourselves or the rest of the super league but we will set our bar appropriately once we know where we stand as a squad”
Growth for women’s rugby
The upcoming season will be the biggest yet as ten teams will feature in the competition. The expansion means that the Women’s Super League has grown from four teams to ten since 2017.
Warrington are one of the new sides added to the super league as a result of the expansion. Davis believes this growth highlights the progress of women’s rugby league.
“Any expansion of the women’s game is a great thing and this is what the game needs”
Michelle Davis also explained that the expansion is perfect for Warrington as it compliments the clubs youth development policy.
She said: “I know Warrington have an amazing pathway for our younger girls and it is exciting to for them to see the possibility of playing in the super league. We are paving the way for them and keeping Warrington on the map”
RFL expansion for 2021
Thomas Brindle, who is the RFL general manager admits the expansion shows the positive progression since the league was established.
Brindle said “The aim is to grow the sport for all girls. We have been on a journey since 2016 to take us up to the World Cup, the aim has been to build up the sport and it has been an amazing journey”
He added: “The last game that was played was shown on SKY which is a massive achievement. As we did not expect the League to be where it was so quickly”
The impact of the pandemic may have derailed the progress slightly. However, Brindle remains positive about the next steps for the sport.
He said: Unfortunately, the pandemic means that for the last 18 months nothing has happened so we are starting on the journey again and the excitement that is building is great.
Victoria Park selected as early season venue
Victoria Park, home ground to the Warrington Wolves, has been chosen to host the first 10 games of the season.
Tom Brindle has explained that consistency is a key reason for Victoria Park hosting so many of the early games.
Brindle said: “At the moment there is restrictions and you have to be Covid secure. Most of the venues that would’ve been suitable are aligned to the men’s Super League and Championship teams and that means we would struggle for consistency of games”
He added: “Warrington is a great venue and Victoria Park ticks all the boxes. It is an enclosed environment and it gives that consistency of knowing the games will be there every Sunday”
The Wolves will have the luxury of playing their first few games in a familiar surrounding as their home ground. Davis believes that playing at Victoria Park will be positive for everyone.
She said: “Of course we’re used to the ground and the pitch, however the facilities at Victoria Park are fantastic so it is nice that all the local teams get to use it as their home ground too”
Tough test for Warrington in season opener
Davis and her teammates kick off their campaign against local rivals Wigan Warriors on April the 18th. Warrington Wolves will face a tough test in their opening game against the 2018 women’s super league champions.
Despite this Davis thinks that regardless of the result it is a win-win for both teams.
Davis explained: “As cheesy as it sounds I just think that women’s rugby league is the winner. Regardless of the result it’ll just be a win that both teams are out there playing rugby”
“Both teams have been hit hard by the pandemic and we’ve all got work to do to get back to the standard of where it was and so it is going to take time”
Sadly fans will have to wait a little bit longer before returning to Victoria Park to watch Davis and co.
Michelle Davis admits that she is eagerly awaiting the return of the fans.
“Sport isn’t the same when you have to create your own environment”
“It’ll be better with fans, that will be the turning point for our game getting the fans back in and cheering us on”
Images courtesy of MKS Photography