2017 was a groundbreaking year for Women’s Rugby League with the introduction of the Tarsha Gale Cup and Women’s Super League. The year culminating in a well fought World Cup Final with Australia’s Jillaroos edging out the New Zealand Ferns.
TARSHA GALE CUP SUCCESS
The New South Wales Rugby League introduced a nine-a-side Under 18’s Tarsha Gale Cup competition. It was run between mid-February and early-May. Nine sides participated in the tournament.
The inaugural championship was won by the Penrith Panthers, defeating minor premiers Canterbury Bulldogs in the final by 26-18.
While the National Rugby League announced a new Women’s Rugby League tournament for 2018, credit should go to the New South Wales Rugby League for laying the foundations earlier in the year.
NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE ANNOUNCE TOURNAMENT
In December the National Rugby League announced the launch of a six-team women’s rugby league competition. The were an added bonus with forty Jillaroos players offered contracts.
Brisbane Broncos, Cronulla Sharks and St George-Illawarra Dragons are front-runners to be given licenses. The series will take place as double-header fixtures at the business end of the men’s competition.
BRADFORD BULLS CREATE HISTORY IN WOMEN’S SUPER LEAGUE
The inaugural women’s Super League competition took place in 2017. The Grand Final was between Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers. The match was played on the same weekend as the men’s showpiece, at Manchester Regional Arena.
It was the Bradford Bulls who comfortably took out the title by winning the decider 36-6.
2018 will see a boost in the women’s game with Leeds Rhinos to enter a side that will be coached by Adam Cuthbertson. Thatto Heath Crusaders with the backing of St Helens RLFC to join the expanding competition.
WORLD CUP WELCOMES NEW NATIONS WITH EPIC FINAL
It was wonderful to see the women’s game flourish during the men’s Rugby League World Cup. Host broadcaster Channel 7 covered the tournament which introduced the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea Orchids and Canada Ravens to our television sets.
The major upset of the tournament was England who were upset by Cook Islands 22-16 in what was a disappointing tournament for the northern hemisphere nation.
In the final at Suncorp Stadium there was nothing separating the Jillaroos and Kiwis with both sides going ‘hammer and tong’ at each other. Caitlin Moran’s field goal on full-time saw the Jillaroos get up 23-16.
It would be veteran Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme who would become a cult hero at the tournament. She scored thirteen tries including six against the Cook Islands.