RFL investigation clears Castleford Tigers Ladies to play in Coral Women’s Challenge Cup final

Castleford Tigers Ladies celebrate their Coral Women's Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Wakefield Trinity. PIC: Ash Allen/SWpix.com
Castleford Tigers Ladies celebrate their Coral Women's Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Wakefield Trinity. PIC: Ash Allen/SWpix.com

CASTLEFORD TIGERS have been cleared to face Leeds Rhinos in the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup final, despite fielding an ineligible player in their semi-final thrashing of Wakefield Trinity.

The Rugby Football League board decided not to kick Tigers out of the competition after it emerged Francesca Townend had been registered as an Oulton Raiders player for their Challenge Cup first-round tie at Widnes Vikings.

Cup rules state that players can’t turn out for more than one club in a season.

Townend will not be eligible to play in the final, but the result of the last-four tie – which Tigers won 100-0 – will stand.

The final will be played at University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday, July 27 as the first part of a triple-header with the men’s semi-finals.

Tigers were beaten by Rhinos in last year’s final.

The women’s competition sits within tiers four and five of the community game competition structure and the Women’s Challenge Cup is governed by the tier four-six operational rules.

Operational rule C2:5:5 states: “​Any club found guilty of playing an ineligible player shall be fined not less than £100 and the match may, subject to the management group’s discretion, be awarded to their opponents.

“The offending player may be liable for suspension.”

An RFL statement added: “A range of sanctions were considered, including whether to award the game to Wakefield Trinity or let the result stand.

“In this instance, [the] board chose to exercise discretion and not to disqualify Castleford Tigers for what was considered to be a genuine administrative error by the club rather than a deliberate act.

“The potential misconduct by club and player will now be considered by a competition discipline panel at a future date in line with operational rules.

“If proven, the panel may consider a fine and a suspension for the player, but will have no jurisdiction over the board’s decision.”

Men’s Challenge Cup rules state: “Any club that plays an ineligible player shall be disqualified save where the club did not know or suspect and could not reasonably have known or suspected even with the exercise of utmost caution that the player was ineligible.”