Super W: Spread of women's talent a focus after round one record, says Castle

Super W
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rugby Australia is looking at ways to ensure every team in Super W remains competitive after Queensland’s record-breaking defeat last weekend, CEO Raelene Castle says.

Queensland’s women opened their campaign with a 112-0 win over the Rebels on Sunday, sparking concerns over the lopsided nature of the tournament in its second season.

The Waratahs beat the Brumbies in their opener as well, though the 26-0 scoreline was far tighter than their Queensland counterparts’.

Last year’s Melbourne side went down to Queensland 60-0 in Super W and went through the competition without a victory.

Queensland and NSW have long been the standout women’s states and dominated the Wallaroos squad last year.

This year, both squads boast a host of Test players in their ranks and Queensland’s depth was enough to bring four internationals off the bench in round one

Rugby Australia CEO Castle admitted there was a need to ensure every team in Super W was consistently competitive but it wouldn't necessarily happen immediately.

“I don’t think any competition where you have a 112-0 scoreline is great,” she said.

“I congratulate the Queensland girls, I thought their performance was amazing but I also know is that playing in a competition where you’ve got that outcome is not great for the Rebels girls.

“We do need to make sure that we’re looking at ways of making sure that the best talent is playing in the competition and I know that those are the types of conversations that we will be having.”

“I know it’s early days, it’s only round one and when we started last year, the round one performances of all five teams weren’t as strong as it was when they finished and I’d expect that to be true this year as well.

“But uncertainty of outcomes are important in any competition, so we would certainly be looking to see if we can even up some of those opportunities.”

Castle said the semi-professional nature of the competition, with most players working full-time jobs or studying, made it difficult to ensure capped Test players were spread across every club.

“All of those overlays are important considerations,” she said.

“It’s not as simple as saying we’re going to pick up a Karmichael Hunt and a Quade Cooper and move them to different parts of the country.”

Queensland captain Kiri Lingman said she would welcome strategies to spread talent, including temporarily relocating players for the competition.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea because there’s a lot of talented girls – and that’s not taking anything away from teams like the Rebels or Brumbies, they just don’t have that depth yet,” she said.

“And that’s just because they’re young franchises and they’re growing in their states.

“And it’s not over-running the whole state and what they have there, it’s just taking a couple of key players that can go down and have an impact for that Super W period is a great idea.”

“Not just for stepping up the competition but for the expansion of the game.

“That’s what the men do. When they look at their pool of players, they look at at the general pool and they start taking players they think are going to be suitable for their match day 23, so looking at it from that perspective, I think it’s a great idea.”

Lingman was confident players would be open to the possibility of a short-term move if that was put on the table in some way.

“I’m sure with the support that’s there for women’s rugby at the moment, people would be happy enough to set players up for two or three months offering them work or housing just for that period just to get them a bit of experience," she said.

“I think you’d have a lot of girls that would be willing to do that.

NSW coach Matt Evrard said the spread of talent would evolve as the competition continues.

“The talent is actually quite shared among the states - even though we do have quite a few starters and so do Queensland, we played an opposition on the weekend that had five Wallaroos in their squad and we had another couple of Wallaroos come out of Melbourne and there's a lot in the WA squad,” he said.

“So, it can be quite shared but how far apart our teams are and we're not really playing in a professional code either, it does make it quite difficult for the girls to move. 

“There was a fair few movements around early on in the season, good to see those girls get out and get starts for other teams.”