Lionesses to support England Women on historic Headingley occasion as past greats recognised

As England Women prepare for their second World Cup fixture against Canada today, their last group game against Papua New Guinea next Wednesday is already guaranteed to be another historic occasion at Headingley. 

England’s World Cup opener against Brazil at Headingley attracted a record crowd of more than 8,000 for a Women’s Rugby League fixture in the Northern Hemisphere, and next week’s return to Leeds will be preceded by a “Pride of the Lionesses” celebration recognising the trailblazers for the Women’s and Girls’ game.

Around 400 people are expected to attend the event which will honour over 100 former GB and England Lionesses, who played in the 1990s and early 2000s. They will receive their caps and heritage numbers for the very first time. 

This will follow the induction of Brenda Dobek, Lisa McIntosh and Sally Milburn into the Rugby League Hall of Fame – the first women to receive that recognition.  

Emily Rudge, England’s World Cup captain, said: “It’s fantastic that as we enjoy the experience of playing in a home World Cup, the previous Lionesses who have paved the way are being recognised like this. It will be a real honour for us to know they are in the crowd at Headingley next week watching our game – we are determined to do them proud.”

England’s game against the PNG Orchids, who also won their first World Cup fixture against Canada at Headingley last week, kicks off at 730pm – and will be preceded at 5pm by an intriguing fixture epitomising the changing nature of international Rugby League, as Canada face the tournament debutants Brazil.

The Pride of the Lionesses event has been the life-long dream of former Rugby League referee, Julia Lee, who set up a heritage project called ‘Life with the Lionesses’ earlier this year. 

The project aims to engage with the wider community, both inside and outside Rugby League, and to deliver a programme of activities that will celebrate the history of the women’s game.  In addition, it will showcase the achievements of women involved in Rugby League and use the stories of rugby’s women pioneers to inspire new generations.

“Some of these women have waited 26 years for recognition of their achievements,” said Julia.  

“It’s been a long time coming and I can’t wait to see their reaction.  These women were the pioneers of women’s Rugby League, paving the way for the young players of today.” 

At the event 71 former GB players, and 43 England players, will receive their caps and heritage numbers. In addition 12 dual internationals, who played for GB and England, will each receive two caps.

Tickets are available for the November 9 Double Header at Headingley from £2.21 for children and £20.21 for adults. Visit www.RLWC2021.com/tickets for more information.

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