A series of nines matches to be played October or November will lead into a 13-a-side North Coast women's rugby league competition to kick off early next year.
This was discussed at a meeting held at Wingham Services Club this week to determine the best way to incorporate women's rugby league into Group Three. The meeting was conducted by the Country Rugby League's women's participation officer, Kylie Hilder from Forster.
The majority of Group Three clubs were represented along with the Hastings League and Group Three management committee members. North Coast women's representative coach, Glen Bampton, was also there.
Mrs Hilder stressed that there is no intention to replace the popular league tag with rugby league. League tag will remain part of the Group Three competition-proper.
"We're not competing with league tag,'' Mrs Hilder said.
We're not competing with league tagCountry Rugby League's female participation officer, Kylie Hilder
Mrs Hilder said not all league tag players would be interested in rugby league. She was one of the prime movers to introduce league tag into Group Three in 2009.
Mrs Hilder said all grassroots competitions starting in country areas would be a pathway to the NRL's women's competition along with the State of Origin teams and Australian Jillaroos.
The NRL women's competition kicked off last year with four teams and will again be contested by the same four clubs this season. However, there are plans to gradually increase the number of sides, creating opportunities for country players.
Changes are also mooted for the women's representative program, including the National Championships.
Mrs Hilder said there's plenty of talented women rugby league players in the North Coast Region, citing the fact that North Coast made the final of this year's Country Championship.
The Hastings League has run a nines competition for the past two years, with all games played at Wauchope. This will be expanded, with matches played at northern and southern venues. Mrs Hilder believes this should be an introduction to tackle rugby league more than a straight out competition and should include skills sessions on the rudiments of the game.
Mrs Hilder suggested assistance could be sought from Canterbury Bulldogs to run the coaching sessions. North Coast Region has an association with the Bulldogs.
This would lead into the 13-a-side competition to be played in February-March next year before a North Coast squad is named for the Country Championships.
Mrs Hilder believes the 13-a-side competition would need teams from Groups Two and Three to be viable.
Nominations for a sub-committee to coordinate women's rugby league are now open with Group Three chief executive, Mal Drury. Two club presidents, Jamie Moorehead (Old Bar) and Justan Buttigieg (Forster-Tuncurry) have already indicated they are willing to be involved.
Mrs Hilder said it would be important to have representatives from northern and southern Group Three clubs and the Hastings League. Group Three chairman Wayne Bridge said he hopes the sub-committee can be in place by mid-August so plans for the nines and 13-a-side competitions can be put in place.
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