Input from clubs

Kedilee Fletcher makes a run for Taree Panthers in a Mid North Coast 11-a-side women's rugby league game played at Taree on Saturday November 14.

Kedilee Fletcher makes a run for Taree Panthers in a Mid North Coast 11-a-side women's rugby league game played at Taree on Saturday November 14.

GROUP Three Rugby League will hold a think tank with clubs and NSWRL women's development officer Kylie Hilder early next year to determine the best pathway to establish a women's tackle competition on the Mid North Coast.

The seven week North Coast 11-a-side competition concludes on Saturday at Wauchope. This has involved clubs from Groups Two and Three, although the majority are from Group Three. Matches have been played at Port Macquarie, Sawtell, Wauchope, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Smithtown, Taree and Wingham.

"This isn't the best time of year to be running a rugby league competition,'' Group Three Rugby League chief executive Mal Drury agreed.

"But we were forced into it by COVID. We'll organise a meeting with Kylie, probably early next year, and we also want to get some feedback from the clubs as to what we can do moving forward.

"But obviously playing a rugby league competition during the rugby league season would be preferable.''

Mr Drury said the interest from some players has waned since the opening week on Saturday, October 24, particularly when the weather started to get warmer. Fortunately games were scheduled for Coffs Harbour last weekend when the State baked in heatwave conditions.

"It wasn't too bad at Coffs,'' Mr Drury said.

"And most of the players don't seem to mind. They're just happy to get a game.''

The competition is run in under 15, 17 and open age divisions. Wingham fields teams in the 15s and opens, while Taree Panthers has sides in the 15s and 17s. Taree's under 17 side is unbeaten going into tomorrow's round.

Mr Drury has said previously there's no threat to women's league tag in Group Three. The group was among the first in the then Country Rugby League to introduce league tag back in 2009 and it is now an integral part of the group's format.

"A number of players - particularly the under 17s - say they want tackle football,'' Mr Drury said.

"There's a few options we can consider. I'd think initially we'd only get half a dozen sides so we could play games at the one venue on the one day or night.

"That wouldn't disrupt our other competitions.''

He added that using free weekends during the Group Three season-proper for a gala is another consideration.

Mr Drury noted that interest and participation in women's rugby league is on the rise throughout the State. This is mirrored in the NRLW, where there are moves to add more teams from 2021.

"We won't be left behind,'' he said.

"But we have to develop a strategy that is workable for all parties.''