All too often people assume Rugby League is only for the boys, but under 10s rugby for girls has proved so popular in Narrandera the Junior Lizards Club has had to form an extra team.
“We’ve got 18 little girls between the ages of five and nine, the most we’ve ever had,” said Kristal Ashcroft, who co-coaches the Narrandera Yellow Lizards with her husband Greg. “There’s two teams, Narrandera Green and Narrandera Yellow.”
Last weekend at the Rugby carnival (the first home event Narrandera has had for eight years) the Narrandera Yellows had a win to top off an already successful weekend. “This weekend they won against the Griffith Waratahs, so they were very pleased with themselves.”
The girls play rugby mini-tag, which follows all the rules of rugby league, but instead of tackling the girls have to pull a cloth tag off their opponents. That said the junior league boys don’t tackle either, as they only have to prevent their opponents from running for a certain amount of time (making it less a tackle and more like an aggressive group hug).
“They’re going to carry the clubs. They are going to be the future mods, and the club will need them to keep going, so it’s important that we support them,” Ms Ashcroft said.
Given that women’s rugby is now an Olympic sport, there’s nothing stopping the girls from following their love for the sport all the way to the top.
“We train with them every Thursday night and last week Greg talked to them about it being a home game, and really putting in the effort, and it sunk in and they’ve had a win. “They love their footy. They pull on their little footy boots and they just think they’re it.”
It’s only the Ashcrofts’ first year of coaching, which they got into after their own daughters started playing Rugby. “They loved it. Then this year it looked like we had so many girls that they wouldn’t get a run, so we realised there needed to be a second team. My hubby and I went across to Wagga and did our coaches course.”
Ms Ashcroft says that they’ve found the experience surprisingly fulfilling. “They love it, and it makes us feel good because they enjoy it so much. We just wanted them to get out and have fun, not worry about winning, but then there’s been a few tears because they haven’t been winning, so they were just ecstatic with the weekend.”