Just 10 days after the state’s history-making Women’s Interstate Challenge victory, the reason behind New South Wales’ vast improvement was clear for all to see at the 2016 All Schools Carnival.
Day Two of the carnival, which is running for a 72nd time in Western Sydney, featured the largest girls’ contingent of all time, with 11 female teams competing across under-16s and – for the first time – senior girls divisions. The players were met by successful NSW Women and Jillaroos captain Ruan Sims, who was impressed by how far the competition has come in recent years.
“When I was these girls’ age we didn’t have any teams playing – I played with the boys until I was 11, then I had to give it away and only got back into Rugby League five or six years ago,” Sims told NSWRL.com.au. “Having these definitive pathways means we can retain that talent, we don’t lose it to other sports and we have a really great opportunity to really increase and grow the women’s game in NSW.
“I think it will play an even bigger role in the future because we’ve got girls here today who are 16s and 18s, so they’re going to be playing at that higher level in the next three to five years.”
Having not lost the Women’s Interstate Challenge in 18 years of the concept before 2016, Queensland’s dominance has long been attributed to their advanced female pathways programs. The NSWRL has made significant efforts to surpass their northern rivals, however, with new under-14s, under-16s and a second Sydney Metropolitan Womens Rugby League second division launched in 2016 – coinciding with the long-awaited victory.
The combination of all the new pathways, Sims explains, will help deliver the NSW Women their own period of dominance.
“I think we’ve sort of got a really good age bracket in the NSW Women team at the moment,” Sims said. “We’ve got a realty good pathways program at that top senior level where we’ve got about 40 players who have trained and played together for the last couple of months, so we’ve got some excellent talent coming through.
“The all girls All Schools carnival is fantastic because we’re going to keep that talent; we’re going to keep it in NSW and hopefully build a dynasty of our own.
“I’m just excited to see what’s going to happen in the next five years.”