FEMALE rugby players are celebrating after news that a new rugby league competition for girls at under 15 level is set to be established in Leeds and beyond.
The Rugby Football League says discussions on the new league are in ‘very early stages’ but following a meeting between local coaches and players with RFL officials at East End Park Rugby Club, plans are moving ahead.
Dean Gledhill, who coaches East Leeds Rugby Club’s girls section under 15 and under 13 squads, says the teenage players have been complaining that there is little chance of progression to reach a professional level - like their boy counterparts.
Dean, 42, said; “The girls I coach are just as skilful and determined as the lads, yet there is no path or progression available to them. We are celebrating the first step to set up an established league for players under 15. It is great news and the players are looking forward to playing against other local teams. At present they only play friendlies and in festivals.
“My son Aaron is 17 and plays for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. But for girls at his level there is no progression available. It seems unfair.”
Even England Women’s rugby play at amateur level as the professional option is not open to them.
A spokesman for the Rugby Football League in Leeds said: “There has been a huge increase in the numbers of girls and women playing rugby league over the last few years and we are keen to do all we can to increase participation levels at every age group.
“It’s fantastic that more and more girls and women are enjoying a sport which provides a great opportunity to get fit and, just as importantly is fun to play.
“We are currently investigating the possibility of setting up dedicated league competitions for girls and are still in dialogue with a number of community clubs in Leeds and West Yorkshire to determine the feasibility.”
East Leeds Under 15s player Chloe Kerrigan said: “I fell in love with rugby, so I started playing school matches. I then wanted to join a team. I hope in the future I can carry on playing rugby league as a career. I enjoy the challenge and the fitness factor of rugby and I find it unfair that’s the boys get all the games and we get friendly games. Girls don’t have as many opportunities or scholarships. We deserve the same as the boys.”