Swinton Lions are ready and raring to go with their Lionesses side, despite their original training date being put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Damian Ridpath, Director of Development at Swinton Lions, spoke to Salford Now about the team’s off-the-field preparation, ambitions for their first season and Swinton Lions’ growth as an organisation.

He said: “We did actually launch in March of this year, but unfortunately Covid cut it just before the first training sessions. A week before we were due to start training, the national lockdown happened.”

Swinton Lionesses did have the option of doing training with Covid-19 protocol in place however, they decided to wait until the team can train as a whole unit.

He added: “The variety of training systems that have been in place such as non-contact and six in bubbles. We decided to wait to start until there was a fuller picture of training available, because we didn’t think it was right to start training a new team in bubbles.

“We wanted everyone to be together, hence why we’ve set the January start date.”

Swinton Lionesses will be entered into the RFL League 1, the third tier of the women’s rugby leagues.

Above them is the Championship and Women’s Super League.

“We’re envisioning to be League 1 or Championship standard straight away. We’re looking to move and develop through the leagues as quick as we can.”

“The women’s team will be treated just the same as the men’s team” Helping develop women’s rugby in the North-West.

Women’s rugby in the North West is on a steady rise, with other clubs such as Sale Sharks recently starting their own women’s teams.

“There are a few good teams in the North-West for Rugby League, but there is none on this side of Greater Manchester at a good level.

“Swinton Lions as an overall club are developing significantly and rapidly, we’re growing as an organisation. Adding a women’s team to our organisation was a no-brainer.

“We decided as a board that we want to back a women’s team. The women’s team will be treated just the same as the men’s team, they will have good training facilities.

“Our plans are to start with the first team and have an under 19s team, and that will then be followed up by an under 16s and under 14s within the next 12 months.

“We have had lots of interest from all the age groups, it’s just getting it into place and getting them in appropriate competitions.

Preparation – a long time coming.

The women’s team has been in the pipeline since Swinton Lions’ new board of directors came in back in September 2019.

He continued: “Covid has knocked us back in terms of training but not in terms of administration and facilitating what we need to do.”

Swinton Lions will announce who will lead their women’s team in the coming weeks.

“We have a very high standard coach who is well known within the women’s game to lead the women’s section forward.

Damian Ridpath added that any women who are keen to potentially join Swinton Lionesses and get involved can contact him via email. He also said that prior experience is not necessary: “You don’t need any prior experience; you just need the will to have a go!”

If you are interested in joining Swinton Women’s team contact: Damian.Ridpath@swintonlionsrlfc.co.uk

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