WOMEN'S rugby league in Keighley is set for a bigger platform with possible 'standalone' matches at Cougar Park after the rebranding of Keighley Albion Ladies to Cougars Ladies.

Albion Ladies, promoted this season as League One champions, have been re-named as Keighley Cougars Ladies and will compete in the Championship in 2020.

The then-named Albion Ladies have already gained experience of playing at Cougar Park following their League One play-off semi-final victory over Halifax Ladies last month.

The ladies team, including England international Emma Templeton, will have the support of the Cougars coaching, medical and other staff.

It is hoped Cougars Ladies will inspire girls to take up the sport at junior and schools level.

Tim Wood, Cougars director, said: "The RFL has not yet issued fixtures for the 2020 women's game and so planning of fixture dates cannot be confirmed as yet.

"The hope is that at least some men's and women's home fixture dates will coincide, which will give the chance for some Ladies matches to be held with a 12.30pm kick-off as a curtain-raiser to a men's match.

"There is also potential for Ladies matches to be played at Cougar Park on dates when the men's team has a bye round and therefore no match.

"Other Ladies matches may also be held as 'standalone' matches at Cougar Park. All fixture dates will be confirmed in due course.

"With the huge growth taking place in girls' and women's sport generally, and in rugby in particular, we wanted to give the opportunity to local women to play the sport at the highest level possible.

"This was part of the thinking behind having to reduce use of the ground by other sports."

Sarah Lancaster, Cougars Ladies team manager, said: "We have a talented team with a great mix of experienced and younger players that won promotion from League One to the Championship in the 2019 season.

"We want to push on and help the players reach their potential and ultimately play in the Women's Super League.

"One of the criteria is that we are branded as and supported by a professional club.

"We welcome the support both on and off the field that the Cougars offer as we aim to push on to the next level in 2020."

"We also aim to retain positive links with Keighley Albion and I hope to run a Keighley Albion women's side in the Women's Amateur Rugby League Winter League.

"We see this winter team as comprising some of the younger players from the Cougars Ladies as well as girls coming through college, schools and junior rugby into open age for the first time."

Mick O'Neill, Cougars chairman, added: "We are delighted to welcome the ladies team to Cougar Park to run alongside the men.

"We hope both teams, the men and the women, achieve success in 2020 and we will do everything we can to support the women's game in the Keighley area."

This is not the first time Cougars have been linked with the women's game.

The pioneering Ladybirds team in the 1980s played their home games and trained at the Lawkholme Lane ground, and then during the Cougarmania years the 'Cougar Cats' team had a big presence, playing curtain raiser matches in the same style Cougar playing kit as the men's team.

Keighley Cougars Ladies welcome new players looking to join an ambitious and professionally supported team and will be holding an open trial starting at 7pm on Wednesday, December 4 at Cougar Park.

All are welcome, just turn up with your kit or, for more information, call Lancaster on 07779 660945.