At a landmark Tumut Rugby League Old Boys meeting on Wednesday night, the proposal of an inaugural women’s nines tackle competition has been heard and looks a likely proposition to be incorporated into the 2020 Tumut Pub Nines competition.
The proposed competition will look to include four women’s teams with players to primarily come from Tumut, Tumbarumba, Batlow and Adelong, while also catering for interested women in Gundagai and Wagga Wagga.
If approved by the Tumut Old Boys, it will be a first of its kind for NSW country rugby league and potentially paves the way for a Group Nine competition.
Tumut Blues club president Bryan Black was backing the proposal.
“I think it’s a great concept, which will hopefully bring ladies back to our club,” he said.
“In the last few years we have lost players to union and they have gone on to excel in that game and love the physicality of it.”
Black believes a women’s tackle competition is a sign of the times.
“With more exposure to women’s rugby league in the media, more women are interested in getting involved and as a club we want to be on the front foot,” he said.
Despite Group Nine’s stance on the inclusion of women’s tackle rugby league in their 2020 competition, chairman of directors Peter McDermott is behind the proposal.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “Anything to get more people playing rugby league is a positive.”
McDermott believes the idea of a women’s tackle competition sits in line with the direction the NRL and CRL are moving towards with women’s rugby league in general.
“The NRL and CRL are pushing women’s rugby league at all levels,” he said.
“The focus is on growing the game and offering an inclusive environment.”
The proposed competition would be played over two weeks with the first round to coincide with the last round of the men’s Pub Nines competition, while the second round would be held on grand final night of the Pub Nines.
The structure would be fairly simple; of the two games played in round one, the two winners would then face of in the inaugural final in the second week, while the two losers would play in the third and fourth placed final.
During the meeting, the proposal was met with support from all factions of the Pub Nines community, including neighbouring towns.
Tumbarumba and Batlow representative Larry Collins highlighted that there would be at least eight women from Tumbarumba interested in playing in such as competition.
Wagga Kangaroos secretary and current Bidgee Bull Gabe Knight, had also thrown her support behind the proposal.
“I think it is a great idea and long overdue – we have girls travelling three or four hours to play a game of rugby league in Canberra on a Friday night,” she said.
“We would definitely support this type of competition.”
Another Bidgee Bull and local Tumut rugby league product behind the proposal is Monique Toppin.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “We have so much talent in Tumut and I hate to see it go to waste playing other sports, or in other towns.”
Toppin believes the competition will be a stepping-stone for women’s rugby league in the Riverina.
“Let’s keep our young ones here by showing our support with the sport they want to play,” she said.
“Women in league is only getting bigger and bigger and Group Nine needs to keep up with the times and having this nine’s competition definitely shows our interest in the sport.”
The eventual decision to introduce the women’s nines competition to complement the already popular Tumut Pub Nines will now sit with the Tumut Old Boys committee.
Needless to say, after the support shown at the recent meeting it would be hard to imagine it not coming to fruition for local rugby league fans.