Rugby Australia is launching a five team women's competition next year

Australia’s Evania Pelite scores in the women’s rugby sevens gold medal match at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Photo: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia is following in the footsteps of the AFL, launching a state-based “Super W” women’s competition in March 2018.

Five teams — Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, and Western Australia — will compete in the six-week competition before a final in April.

The announcement comes 24 hours after Rugby Australia became the first major football code to appoint a female CEO.

Raelene Castle, the former CEO of Netball New Zealand, and the NRL’s Canterbury Bulldogs, will take over from Bill Pulver next April, taking charge of a sport struggling for participants and audience and internal tensions over the axing of the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition and threats by mining billionaire Andrew Forrest to start a rival competition.

Announcing the women’s competition, the organisation said it also plans to bid for the 12-team 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Outgoing CEO Bill Pulver said the state-based competition will provide a “clear and accessible pathway” for female rugby players to play in the national teams, the Wallaroos and Women’s Sevens team.

“Super W will allow our Women’s XVs players the opportunity to play in a high-quality competition, fully entrenched within the professional programs at each state giving them access to elite coaching and high-performance facilities,” he said.

“The Australian Rugby community has been incredibly proud of the growth of the women’s game in recent times and I know that this crucial competition is going to supercharge this growth in future years.”

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