Women’s RL: Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers showpiece final deserves a prestigious venue – RFL

St Helens' Totally Wicked Stadium.
St Helens' Totally Wicked Stadium.

THE RUGBY Football League admit it is “unfortunate” Leeds Rhinos’ and Castleford Tigers’ women are facing another cross-Pennine trip for a major final, but say a big game deserves a prestigious venue.

St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium will stage Friday’s Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final, the sides’ third meeting in a title decider in two seasons.

Leeds Rhinos' Danni Anderson is tackled during the Challenge Cup final against Castleford Tigers.

Leeds Rhinos' Danni Anderson is tackled during the Challenge Cup final against Castleford Tigers.

Rhinos won last year’s Challenge Cup showpiece at Warrington Wolves’ HJ Stadium and retained the trophy three months ago when the final was played in Bolton.

Rhinos’ Emerald Headingley had been due to stage the 2019 Grand Final on Sunday, October 13, but the date and venue were changed in August.

England’s women’s squad, including players from all Super League’s top teams, will fly to Sydney on Saturday morning ahead of the World Nines so Sunday was no longer an option and Headingley is unavailable on Friday evening, leading to St Helens being chosen instead.

With tickets and corporate hospitality already on sale before last weekend’s semi-finals, the RFL say it is too late to arrange another change.

Castleford Tigers' Hollie-Mae Dodd is tackled during this year's Challenge Cup final clash with Leeds Rhinos.

Castleford Tigers' Hollie-Mae Dodd is tackled during this year's Challenge Cup final clash with Leeds Rhinos.

An RFL spokesman said: “The priority has been the quality and prestige of the venue, to reflect the growing status of the fixture.

“That is why Emerald Headingley was chosen. When we lost Headingley, because of the switch to Friday, the priority was to find a venue of equivalent prestige. We want it to feel like a big occasion, as is the case with the men’s Grand Final. There is never a debate about Old Trafford, whoever’s in the final but, having said that, we have got to learn lessons and we will be looking at what is the best option [in future].”

Of the possibility of moving the final – broadcast live on Sky Sports – to West Yorkshire, the spokesman added: “A lot of planning has already gone into it and tickets and corporate hospitality have been sold. It is unfortunate; we are sorry it is going to be difficult for Castleford and Leeds fans, but we hope as many as possible will get behind their team, as they did at Bolton for the Challenge Cup final.”

Leeds and Castleford are both running official coach travel to the final. Admission is £5 for adults and £1 for under-16s and tickets are available through the RFL and from the ground on Friday night.