More than 320 players will take to the field this weekend as Group 4, Group 21 and Illawarra Country Rugby League Women's Nines return to action.
After the success of inaugural season held throughout Regional NSW, attention returns to Tamworth, Murrurundi and Corrimal on Friday and Saturday.
With the rapid rise of rugby league popularity among females players, the Nines are proving a huge drawcard - short, fast paced games on a full sized field with multiple games played over a six-week period.
Following this weekend’s kick-off, additional competitions will take place in the Riverina, Central Coast/Hunter, Hastings League, Western Region, Group 2 and Group 19.
Country Rugby League Female Participation Officer Kylie Hilder says she was "overwhelmed by the demand" from Groups across Regional NSW to host the matches.
“To expand from just a couple of competitions last season to now having eight running with over 1500 registered players is a great indication of the popularity of rugby league among female participants," Hilder said.
“In recent times we’ve seen the addition of Ladies League Tag in the Country Championships, the introduction of the CRL Women’s Nines and also the first Country Women’s team selected to take on City – it’s a great time for women in the game with the amount of opportunities beginning to present themselves.”
Australian Jillaroos World Cup member and NSW Women’s Interstate player, Isabelle Kelly, has been named the official ambassador for the CRL Women’s Nines.
Kelly says it’s an exciting time for female rugby league players.
“When I first started playing, you had to travel to Sydney to get noticed,” she said.
“I think it’s great for girls in regional areas to be able to play the game in their hometowns and get a taste of the tackle version of the game.”
Hilder added: “The Nines were a fantastic success last season and it was great to see new and returning regions expressing interest in hosting competitions in 2017.
“The Nines are all about having fun and getting an opportunity to play, or try, tackle rugby league with your friends in a fun environment.”
The Illawarra competition will see Berkeley, Bomaderry, Corrimal, Helensburgh, Shellharbour and Milton Ulladulla field sides in the U17’s; while the Open-Age Competition will feature Corrimal, Helensburgh, Shellharbour, Woonona-Bulli, Milton-Ulladulla and Bomaderry fielding two sides.
The Group 4 competition will see Bendermeer, Collegians, Uralla, North Tamworth, Werris Creek and South West Robins compete in an Open-Age competition; while Group 21 will see Aberdeen, Denman, Singleton, Merriwa, Murrurundi and Muswellbrook also competing in an Open-Age format.
Players still looking to register for CRL Women’s Nines competitions in Hastings League, Central Coast / Hunter, Group 4, Group 19 and Riverina competitions can visit crlnsw.com.au or contact – firstname.lastname@example.org