Women’s rugby league is surging in popularity and this Saturday locals will have the chance to witness some of our region’s talent when the Group 19 nines competition gets underway.
Armidale are represented in the four week-competition with Narwan and the Rams while Moree and Warialda make up the rest.
Round one gets underway at Rugby League Park and Narwan captain Anarla Moran said their squad is ready to take the field.
“Narwan Eels women’s nines team is looking very good with a full squad of 18 players. We are all very keen and confident to get out onto the field and give our best,” she said.
“A few of our players have played tackle football before playing in competitions, like the Aboriginal Knockout Carnival. We do also have a few girls that are new to tackle football and giving it a go for the first time. We have been training twice a week and been teaching a variety of tackling techniques to give the girls confidence on the field in tackling the opposition in defence.”
Armidale Rams have hit the training paddock in preparation for the new competition.
The Rams fielded a side in the North West competition earlier this year but returning player Kate McCulloch said it will be a vastly different team this time round.
“Our squad is going in very positive and very keen to get out there and make our mark. We have about 15 players which isn’t a full squad but certainly enough to be competitive,” she said.
“We have a reasonably small team so our biggest challenge is going to be muscling up in defence,” she said.
“We are confident we have what it takes to score tries if we can just maintain good possession and hold the other team out.”
All four teams have experienced and newcomers to the sport and Moran believes Moree will be one of the toughest teams but McCulloch can’t split the sides.
“Warialda ladies are making a name for themselves when in comes to contact football with their school team winning state championship in union so we will not be taking them lightly,” she said.
“Moree and Narwan both have experience playing in the Koori knockout with skillful ball runners and hard hitters so they too will bring a lot to the competition.”
More than 1000 females have registered for Country Rugby League nines competitions across the state and both Moran and McCulloch agreed the tournaments are a step in the right direction for women in the sport.
“The nines competition is a great way to introduce women that are interested to the contact side of league,” Moran said.
“It’s great to see that Country Rugby League is giving women the opportunity to compete against other clubs in the nines competition and hopefully down the track after the tournament they will provide clubs with more opportunities for women to play tackle football throughout the season and get a women’s rugby league comp happening.”
McCulloch played in metro competitions before moving to Armidale with previous teammates making the step up to state-level rugby league. She believes the tournament will showcase what the country has to offer.
“There is so much untapped talent so it would be good to see local girls going down these paths in the coming years. The talent is definitely there the girls just need to be given the chance,” she said.