East Leeds are creating a stir in girls' rugby league
East Leeds Under-12 girls are creating a name for themselves in junior Rugby League,
The girls ran riot at the Leeds Rhinos tournament a few weeks ago, claiming victory on the back of their school’s unprecedented success on the national stage.
Nine of the East Leeds players also represent Year 7 of the Corpus Christi Catholic College, who became the first team from Leeds to win the Rugby League National Schools Championships in July.
The club have enjoyed a magnificent season so far, and they sit at the top of the table, boasting an impressive unbeaten record. Coach Craig Blakey has witnessed first-hand the triumphs the girls have enjoyed in school and for their club, and he has heralded the winning mentality the players have.
Blakey, who formerly coached a boys’ rugby league team at the Irish Centre, became coach of the East Leeds U-12s girls in March after his own daughter wished to continue playing for an all-girls side.
Since then, the team have not lost a game, and their fortunes have coincided with the girls’ achievements in the Schools National Championships.
Upon starting his role as coach, Blakey contacted a teacher at the school, so that the girls’ positions for school and club could be coordinated.
The results of this partnership are clear for all to see. An unbeaten national tournament for school and club made for a remarkable ‘double’ cup win.
With victory also comes reward, and the players had the chance to meet Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan at a recent club tournament.
What makes their achievements even more astonishing is the fact that some of the girls in the side are beginners.
“There are 17 girls at the club now, but before March, the team only had eight players. We’re essentially a new team!” said Blakey.
“Some haven’t even played before, but they fit right in. They’re a great bunch of girls.
“We’re doing well! They listen to me as a coach, we work as a unit. They’re all very good individually and work well as a team. The success the girls have enjoyed could even be seen on national level in the future, you never know.”
The Year 7 Corpus Christi and East Leeds girls are a force to be reckoned with; their success this year is a welcome addition to city celebrations following the Challenge Cup triumph of Leeds Rhinos Women for whom some of the girls could, perhaps, one day play.