Super W season two: Five things we learned

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

NSW capped season two of the Buildcorp Super W competition by beating Queensland in another thrilling competition decider.

The close and intense match was a fitting finale to a competition that continues to build in status and performance.

What are the talking points after another season of elite women's rugby?

1. NSW the dominant force

The Waratahs women remain undefeated after two years of Super W competition and are the benchmark for women's XVs in the country. The Tahs entered the season with a target on their back but were able to withstand the challenge of every other outfit despite each of them bringing their A game against the defending champions.

The depth of playing stocks in NSW will continue to challenge the other states to raise their fitness, skills and tactical play to even remain competitive let alone beat the two-time champions. Queensland's second grand final loss by just three points will sting but challenges them to improve again after they raised the bar this season.

Queensland captain Kiri Lingman (no.8 foreground) slumps to the ground after her team loses the grand final to the Waratahs women. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

2. Wallaroos to benefit

There's little doubt the standard of competition has been raised in season two of the Super W and it's the Wallaroos who are set to be the major beneficiaries. Pitching Australia's best players against each other for six weeks can only help raise the bar for the national squad ahead of this year's test program and with an eye to the World Cup in 2021.

The only question for organisers moving forward will be whether the season should be increased from its current six-week period to include two full rounds before finals. The more elite-level play the Wallaroos are exposed to ahead of the Test period, the better.

3. Defence has been desperate

Queensland's defensive effort in Sunday's grand final was outstanding despite them coming away with a second consecutive loss in the season decider. That increased starch has been a highlight of the competition in its second season, with the standard improving across the board as the competition continues to evolve.

 

With more crossover of sevens and former sevens players likely into the Super W arena, the standard is set to continue to rise and defences will have to continue to evolve to contain the threats.

4. Age shall not weary them

While there are plenty of young stars emerging through the competition - Queensland centre Alysia Lefau-Fakaolisea and Brumbies backrower Tayla Stanford and among them - it was the old guard that controlled play to a great extent in the final, as they had for much of the season.

Waratahs captain Ash Hewson, Queensland halves Lavinia Gould and Cobie-Jane Morgan and Brumbies leader Shellie Milward are in their 30s but again showed age is no factor as they dominated the competition. Hewson, in particular is head and shoulders above most players in the competition at 39 and provided her team a calming voice on field in the final when Queensland threatened to get on top.

Ash Hewson has been one of the most influential players in the Super W competition despite her age. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

5. Not all teams are equal

The outstanding final between Queensland and NSW notwithstanding, there were some severe blowouts during the regular season, including the Rebels' round one 112-0 loss. It presents a conundrum for Rugby Australia moving forward.

Should equalisation moves such as a draft or player loan be implemented, or dominant states Queensland and NSW allowed a second team to help even out the talent? Or do those states need to stand as a benchmark others need to strive to reach?

The Rebels are committed to continuing to improve their women's program, while Rugby WA and the Brumbies are capable of pushing the best teams for longer periods.