GIRLS TAKEOVER: From left, Elly Byriell, Holly Turnbull and Georgia Moore are three of more than 100 local girls signed up for an inaugural Tamworth rugby sevens competition. Photo: Gareth Gardner 161116GGE02WOMEN’S football is about to take off in Tamworth with girls rugby union and league competitions gaining traction
The Tamworth Magpies rugby union club are hosting their inaugural rugby sevens competition over the next four weeks, but it was the demand for women’s rugby which took the club by surprise.
“Initially, we thought just to keep the boys engaged over the off season, we wouldrun a sevens comp,” Magpies president Sam Scott toldThe Leader.
“[And] on the strength of the ladies sevens in the Olympics, we thought ‘let’s have a crack’ andtry and get two or three female teams together.
“We just put one post on Facebook and got over 100 girls.”
The huge response means the club will be able to field 12 teams across three age groups – under 14s, under 16s and opens –in just the first season of the local competition.
And the female turnout for the rugby comp almost doubled the male registrations with six open grade men’s teams taking part.
“I think it’s on the back of the culture we’ve been driving the last five years and having a great family atmosphere has attracted people to the club and we’ve seen that with 100 females turning up for the sevens,” Scott said.
The Magpies president said the competition would remain a club initiative for now, but there could be scope to expand later on.
The call for female football has been heralded across the region with Central North Rugby Union announcing a women’s opens and under 18s competitionwould join the men’s Saturday fixtures.
Scott said the Magpies wouldenter teams in both grades and look for something for junior girls too.
“With the growing success we have seen with female sports teams in Australia, Ithink there is going to be more and more demand in female sports,” Scott said.
Last week, Country Rugby League CRL announced a women’s nines comp would be coming to Tamworth in February 2017.
The recent launch of CRL nines competitions in Dubbo, Newcastle and the Illawarra has seen over 300 players register for the competitions.
The six- week competitions kick-off with a ‘Come and Try’ skills session, followed by five weeks of games. Non-Competitive in its first year, participants are able to try contact Rugby League in shorter matches, with a pathway to further Representative competitions planned for the future.
“We’re really excited to see Group 21 and Tamworth host competitions in 2017 and I expect to see other regions adopt the CRL nines in the future,”CRL female participation officer Kylie Hilder said.