There is a fresh push to inject new life into Group 10 rugby league by introducing an under 18s women’s league tag competition in 2018.
Bathurst rivals, St Pat’s and Panthers, are both keen to see the new division added alongside the senior premierships already contested for 2018.
It was the Saints – winners of this year’s open league tag grand final - who proposed the expansion of the women’s involvement at the recent Group 10 annual general meeting.
The blue and whites have the numbers to field an under 18s side and were hoping others would be receptive to doing the same.
Bathurst Panthers president Dennis Comeford admits he was not initially a fan of the idea, but has since changed his mind. Now he sees it as something which could be a successful endeavour.
“At the AGM there probably wasn’t a real lot of support for it, I think a lot of clubs were thinking about starting another hour earlier on Sunday, and I was one of those, I won’t deny that,” he said.
“But after a bit of thought, from our club’s perspective, we’ve decided to give it a crack. Emma Duke, who plays in our women’s league tag side, she coaches our under 16s, she was pretty confident we’d have the numbers to put together an under 18s side for next year and has put her hand up to coach them.”
At AGM it was decided that if clubs could form an under 18s league tag outfit, that they sort out games between themselves. It would be on a non-competitive basis, acting like exhibition matches.
But after Comerford spoke to St Pat’s Graeme Ward, both feel the concept deserves better than sporadic games and no premiership.
They are pushing for other Group 10 clubs to join them in making a proper under 18s women’s league tag premiership.
“I think if we are going to go down that line, we’ve got to do it properly and run it along the same line as we run the under 18s,” Comerford said. “We need to fully integrate those girls into the clubs.
“If we could get five out of the nine clubs get teams, we could run a full on competition. Even if it’s four clubs, they could play finals the same as the blokes do and go on an play a grand final on grand final day.
“This is how league tag started out with only a few clubs being in it, and look at what it is now.
“If clubs want to be fair dinkum about it and give it crack, if they get word out now, they might attract the numbers to do it. We hope we can make a fist of it.”
Based on the under 16s league tag gala days staged this year, the Bathurst clubs feel forming an under 18s competition is feasible.
It would help juniors better transition to the senior competition and in turn, make for a healthy future for the senior league.
“The age difference can be a bit intimidating, even in the men’s it’s intimidating,” Comerford said.
“With the young girls now, the concept of league tag has only been with them for 12 months. They’ve got to have a career path as well and some who played under 16s this season, while they can play women’s league tag, they probably feel they are not up to the standard of that competition.
“But they still want to play the game, and by having something at an under 18s level, it keeps them involved and interested. We should encourage all clubs to get behind this.”