Group looks to start women’s 9s

GROUP Three Rugby League hopes to run a women’s nines tackle competition as part of the 2017 season.

The brainchild of group secretary Barrie Smith, the nines would start in week eight of the campaign.

Under the plan matches would be 10 minutes each way and would be played after the under 18s, kicking off at 1.25. Women’s league tag would start at 11.15, 15 minutes earlier than usual. The first grade would start at the usual time of 3.15 with the day finished by 4.30.

Country Rugby League women’s female recruitment and participation officer, Kylie Hilder from Forster said she was ‘blown away’ by the proposal.

“This is an ideal way to get league nines out there,’’ she said.

“And it won’t take away from our highly successful league tag competition.’’

Registered league tag players would be able to back up and play in the nines if they desire. However, outside players would also be eligible to turn out in the nines only.

“It’s a great idea,’’ Hilder said.

At last year’s group annual meeting Hilder – then the Group Three development officer – proposed a nines competition be added to the 2016 competition. However, this met with a lukewarm response from clubs, many officials concerned at the impact it would have on league tag. 

Hilder now believes this concept is the perfect compromise.

She took on the CRL job earlier this year and said there is an interest in women’s rugby league throughout the country area.

“But travel is the biggest issue,’’ she said.

Group Three was a pioneer in league tag, starting the competition in 2009. This year a Group Three side, playing under the regional banner of East Coast, won the inaugural CRL league tag championship. Port City’s Simone Smith was named the Group Three representative player of the year – a first for country football.

Hilder revealed summer nines competitions will be starting in a number of regional centres including Dubbo, Newcastle and Wollongong next month while the NRL had indicated it eventually wants to start a women’s competition. A women’s tournament will be played in conjunction with the Rugby League World Cup next year. Hilder said starting a nines here would provide a pathway for Group Three players into major representative teams and the proposed elite competitions.

Hilder has played rugby league for Australia, touring New Zealand with the Jillaroos. She also captained the East Coast team to the Country championship this year and plays league tag for Forster-Tuncurry. Hilder is also one of the greats of Australian Touch Football, having played in four World Cup winning women’s or mixed teams

However, she remains non-committal as to whether she’ll turns out in the nines competition next year.

“It will depend on whether I have time – I might not even be playing league tag yet,’’ she said.

For further details on the Group Three nines contact Kylie Hilder on 0400 345 519 or Barrie Smith on 0417 492 865.

Kylie Hilder looks for support playing in a State Cup touch football match for Taree.

Kylie Hilder looks for support playing in a State Cup touch football match for Taree.