While we’re having our off season from Super League there is still a thriving rugby league scene going on here in Hull, which is bringing both sides of the great divide here together.
Hull Wyke Ladies RL can boast players, and supporters, of both the red and white, and the black and white persuasion. One other thing you should be aware of, yes this is ladies rugby league, but it is, in every way, as competitive as it gets and I challenge anybody who gets involved as a player, coach, supporter or, in my case, journalist, not to enjoy it immensely.
When you have 26 feisty ladies on a pitch, you will find as much passion for the game as anywhere you care to look, and with that comes aggression, pride, desire and a will to win to match the best.
During this game thumping tackles and high shots were flying in at all angles, this was no Sunday afternoon stroll in the park, it was bare faced aggression, guts, tenacity and pride in the shirts they were wearing, it was a real joy to behold.
Wyke scrum half Jade Key encapsulated what this game is about, as the diminutive number 7 was flung to the ground several times, and just got up, after some bone crunching hits, and went back in and gave as good as she got and more, along with scoring an outstanding opening score after a break by her team from the halfway line opened up the Sirens right edge defence.
No quarter was asked, or given, by either side, but the whole time a great sense of fun endeared the proceedings to those who took time to stand on a freezing cold touchline to watch this top class entertainment.
No article about rugby league, in any form, would be complete without a mention about the standard of officiating. The referee at this game was of a decent standard, although he did have his inconsistencies, and did appear to apply some liberal interpretations to the laws of the game at times.
Something that definitely proved the standard of aggression and guts and pride in the passion of both sets of players, although maybe casting a bit of a shadow on the discipline of both sides, was the high amount of penalties, 3 sin bins (1 Wyke, 2 Sirens) and the team warnings sent the way of the Sirens as well, this just added to the intensity of the game.
With much of the action happening in one half of the field he had a fairly simple job, although he was challenged by the amount of penalties he was having to give, particularly against the visitors from Bradford.
It will come as no surprise that the standout players all came from the home side as they swept their way to victory with five tries, whilst fervently holding out the rare attacks by the Sirens with some very committed defending, and celebrating coughed up possession like they celebrated their tries, with great gusto that spoke volumes for the team spirit.
One of the standout players was newlywed Mrs Amy Temperton, more about her later. The Wyke number 9, known to me only as Tanya, and the number 4, called Evie, were a constant thorn in the side of the visitors.
But the Player of the Match was definitely the earlier mentioned Jade Key, her defending, and ability to run off injuries, her outstanding try and her link up play between backs and forwards, made her a genuine shining light on a freezing cold, wet afternoon, made her an obvious choice she is one I will definitely look forward to watching in future, as ladies rugby league will hopefully continue to expand.
Characters in the game:
I referred to Amy Temperton, and promised you more, this is why she is a definite character. She was married on Friday, her husband was on the touchline this afternoon, last week she was stopped from playing because it was deemed too risky, just before her big day. But the honeymoon was put off until tomorrow, so that she could play today.
With the sense of fun that prevails between players and spectators several characters shone through the bitter conditions. Whenever a player went down on either side, and believe me it happened quite a few times, there was a comradeship on display, as players from both sides could be seen, making sure a player who got back up and played on, was strong enough to carry on.
The characters and comradeship ensured a great respect between the combatants, but it was healthy and the players ensured the standard of play and the intensity of it never dropped.
As a rugby league supporter, I can only urge you to give this expanding sport a go, either as a player or a supporter, Jade Key was the player of the match today, why not take a trip to watch them in Leeds next week, or go and see them at home on 20th November, to see if anybody can eclipse her? I promise, you won’t regret it.