A new 10-week program held at Launceston Rugby Club will see junior girls’ rugby introduced to the north of Tasmania for the very first time.
As part of an ongoing effort to grow the sport in the state, the Tasmanian Rugby Union has enlisted the help of Tamar Valley Vixens’ president Rhiannon James to spearhead the inaugural junior girls’ program.
With the first session scheduled for April 6, girls aged from 12 to 16 will learn the basic rules of rugby union and begin to safely develop essential skills such as passing and tackling in both training and game-style sessions.
James said the program would serve as an opportunity to not only engage young girls in sport but elevate the skill level for future statewide rugby competitions.
“I can only see something like this growing the sport and making it stronger and more professional because at a basic level, if we have people starting in the juniors they know how to play by seniors,” she said.
“It’s not just, you know, 25-year-olds learning from fresh.”
Following the initial program’s completion, young players will have the opportunity to travel to Burnie and Devonport to play umpired games against other girls in their age group.
While this will serve as a chance to test out newly learned skills and game sense, James is more concerned about seeing positive outcomes away from the scoreboard.
“There are so many other benefits from playing rugby outside of a winning result,” she said.
“There’s teamwork, there’s building confidence – which is a huge thing for teenage girls I think.
“You’re going through this horrible time where you don’t know where you fit, but you can fit in the community of rugby and grow as a team and as an individual.”
Research updated as recently as 2021 by government web initiative ‘Clearinghouse for Sport’ indicates that lack of confidence is one of the greatest barriers for girls aged nine to 14 when considering joining a sport.
Local Launceston mother Lili Foster hopes that programs like this will not only work to build greater confidence in the girls but also combat stigma surrounding women playing male-dominated sports.
“It’s about time the girls were able to get involved and see that rugby is just as much for them as it is for the boys,” Foster said.
“Times are changing and women’s sport is only going to get bigger and better.”
For more information on the program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.