Women in a league of their own

OXLEY Diggers won’t be the only addition to the Group 4 First Division competition this season, with Ladies League Tag set to make its debut.

After a successful introduction to Second Division last season, the Group has decided to include Ladies League Tag in the First Division competition as well.

It will be a four-team competition, with Diggers, North Tamworth, Gunnedah and West Tamworth nominating teams, Group 4 secretary Mick Schmiedel said.

He said it’s something the women had been pushing for.

“It’s worked in other groups and worked in Second Division,” Schmiedel said.

“Losing the 16s (they’ve gone back to the juniors) opened the gap for it to come in.”

It will effectively take the place of the 16s with the 18s to follow, then second grade and first grade.

“A lot of these girls have got partners who play,” Schmiedel said.

“It might generate more spectator interest.”

On the indications of Saturday’s trial between Oxley Diggers and North Tamworth, it will. 

The sport is certainly generating plenty of playing interest. 

As well as First Division picking it up, numbers are up in Second Division.

Schmiedel said all 10 clubs had indicated they would be fielding sides.

Games consist of 25-minute halves and there is “no fending, no jumping, no contact and no 360s”.

This season, Group 4 has also brought in that rather than the team that scores kicking off, the team that is scored against will tap-off from half-way.

For the record, Diggers won Saturday’s trial six tries to four.

Natasha Allan is their coach.

“Today was a good hit-out,” Allan said.

“We only had our first real session on Thursday.

“From today we can only build.”

The squad she’s got is a mix. Some played league tag with Second Division clubs last year. 

Others are new to the game.

Allan is pleased the Group has brought it in. She tried to get a team at Quirindi last year but it didn’t eventuate.

Not through lack of numbers though. 

They had those but couldn’t get the sponsors.

“You always see women sitting around watching the football,” she said.

“Four teams for Group 4 only sounds small but there were only four or five in Second Division last year.

“The more people see it the more people get to like it.”

With a lot of the players coming from oztag backgrounds, Allan said the biggest thing was learning the concept of league. 

“The only similar thing to oztag is you have tags.

“It’s more rugby league,” she said.

Diggers train Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6.30pm on the minor league fields and will get another run on Saturday against Scone.

They’re also hoping to play Armidale on March 8 when the men do.

The Bears have a similar make-up. 

They’ve got a few who played league tag last season but most are oztaggers.

Belinda Clegg got the side together.

She said they started training a bit before Christmas and have had pretty good  numbers.

“Today was our first run all together,” she said.

Considering that and a lot of them are new to league tag, it was pretty good.

She, too, is pleased to see the Group introduce it this season.

“It’s good,” she said.

“Most of our partners play so we’re here anyway.”

They train at 5.30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and have Zac Russ and Kieran Fisher helping out with coaching.

Their next trial will be against the Dungowan Cowgirls on March 1.

 The following week they’ve got a game against Manilla.

Both teams welcome any interested players.

Second Division will kick the season off on April 5. 

The Wests Knockout will be held the following weekend, with the First Division competition getting underway on April 27.

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