Ipswich girls league comp created
TEENAGE girls west of Brisbane are falling head over heels for rugby league, forcing the Ipswich Junior Rugby League to create history and form an under-16 girls competition.
More than 100 girls have already signed on for next year’s inaugural season which will feature an underage girls rugby league grade in Ipswich for the first time.
Six clubs are expected to take part.
There is likely to be an under-14 grade introduced as well, if not next season, then in 2012.
At present, there are barely any organised club competitions in Queensland for girls older than 12 but younger than 18 who want to play league.
The QRL had previously shied away from allowing teenage competitions to take place because of safety fears.
But Ipswich Junior Rugby League president Brendan Bowers said the demand from Ipswich girls to play the game meant creating a competition in Ipswich was a no-brainer.
“Why shouldn’t girls be able to play the greatest game of all,” Bowers said.
“The numbers we have signing up speak for themselves.
“It could become a very popular sport amongst teenage girls like netball currently is.”
This year the Norths Tigers club formed an under-16 girls team that played in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
That experiment has now been expanded with Springfield, Brothers, Goodna/Redbank Plains and West End all expected to field teams in next year’s first IJRL girls competition.
“The best game of footy I have seen all year was the Norths Tigers versus Sunshine Coast girls game,” Bowers said.
“Just the passion in that game was amazing to see.
“The girls love it and it is a good style of league to watch. People would be surprised how much they get into it.”
Springfield already has 20 girls signed on for the team next year, while Norths have 40.
Norths Tigers captain Josephine Dillon loves the game so much she is the sole female in St Peter Claver College’s rugby league education course.
Ipswich has already produced an Australian women’s rugby league player in long-striding centre Ali Brigginshaw.
QRL women’s development officer Belinda Sleeman said more girls were looking for a physically challenging sport.
“It is fantastic to see Ipswich Junior Rugby League take the initiative and form their own girls competition in a city where the game has such a stronghold,” Sleeman said.
“I expect the participation rate to continue its phenomenal rise over the next five years ... women and girls will without a doubt be the biggest growth area in the game.”