Country Rugby League women’s participation officer Kylie Hilder believes establishing a junior league tag competition in this area is essential next year.
However, Hilder, who lives at Forster, concedes there’s little love in Group Three at the moment for a women’s nine-a-side competition. Other Country Rugby League grounds have embraced the concept, with northern neighbours Group Two, among the latest. Group Three was among the first competitions in the CRL to introduce women’s league tag back in 2009. All eight clubs field teams.
Hilder believes junior competitions – probably under 14s and 16s, would provide a pathway to the senior teams as well as increasing the awareness of women’s rugby league. Whether the junior competitions are played in conjunction with the Group Three Junior Rugby League or with the senior clubs has yet to be determined, along with when the competitions will be played.
Women’s rugby league does have a presence in this area with a competition run under the auspices of the Wauchope-based Hastings League starting this year. This attracted four sides and there are plans for matches to resume this month.
Games were played on Friday nights.
Hilder spoke about starting a Group Three competition two years ago at the group’s annual meeting, however, this met with a lukewarm response from club delegates and nothing has eventuated since.
Hilder, with fellow Group Three players Holli Wheeler (Old Bar) and Simone Smith (Port Macquarie) turned out with North Newcastle in the NSW Women’s Rugby League competition this year. Norths were beaten by Redfern All Blacks in the grand final. All three also played league tag in Group Three, Hilder with Forster-Tuncurry, Wheeler with Old Bar and Smith with Port City. Old Bar beat Port City in the grand final to win the club’s first league tag premiership.