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Answering the call from female Rugby League players and fans, a gala tackle day for Under 17 girls from the NSW north coast and northern rivers areas was held in Coffs Harbour last weekend to harness that interest.

Coffs Comets Junior Rugby League Club President and Group 2 JRL President Damon Hunter said 140 players turned up from seven teams representing Groups 1, 18, 2 and 3.

All groups, except Group 2, have been able to set up an U17s tackle competition. But they are in their infancy - either their second or third year – and some only have four teams.

So last weekend was a chance to add some variety on the field and keep the players engaged. Every team was given three matches.

“This was the first time we’ve done this. And it came off the back of a lot of requests coming through from girls who wanted to play tackle Rugby League, in Group 2 particularly,” Hunter said.

“Girls have been travelling down to Group 3 or up to Group 1 – driving between Grafton and Port Macquarie – to get a game of tackle.

“We put this gala day in Coffs Harbour specifically for the Group 2 girls to show them we are trying to give them an outlet for their Rugby League.

“We’re looking at a plan to do this again in the 2025 pre-season and hopefully grow the event to include Under 13s and Under 15s, even Open women.

“At present the interest is spread from girls aged 12 right up to 17 – it’s not concentrated in just one age group or in one town. And that’s one of the issues of trying to pull a comp together.

“You might have 50 or 60 girls wanting to play tackle but that might be spread over five age groups.

“But we’re optimistic because the feedback from last weekend was very good.”

Now Hunter said the next step was growing the female game in the coaching/sports trainer space.

“Another issue for us is female coaches. In our RISE program this year we have two male and two female coaches,” Hunter said.

“The two women – Tina McRae and Zoie Shreiweis – play first grade women’s tackle. They’re committed, because they are coming towards the back end of their playing careers, to take up coaching.

“That’s aim to have more female coaches and trainers to build up the female participation because the desire is certainly there.”

The teams that took part last weekend were: Port City Breakers, Old Bar & Forster Combined, Marist Brothers, Casino, South Grafton-Grafton & Clarence Coast, Cudgen & Murwillumbah Colts Combined, Group 2 Combined (pictured above).

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