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The women representing the NSW Country Eagles, the Greater Sydney Rams and the Sydney Rays will play for the Kerry Chikarovski Cup as part of the NRC competition.
The three teams will play each other once with the first-past-the-post winner of the competition receiving the Cup, donated by Kerry Chikarovski who is supporting the competition.
As the Chair of the NSW Women’s Rugby Union and a NSWRU Board member Kerry Chikarovski has been a long-time supporter of getting more women into playing both sevens and full team rugby.
“NSW Rugby had the view that women in this state weren’t getting enough opportunities to play 15-a-side at a competitive level, and all power to them, they decided to have a female version of the NRC and we’ve started with three teams this year and we hope it grows from there,” Ms Chikarovski said.
“It’s absolutely my hope that this competition will grow and that we’ll have more women’s teams in next year.”
The women’s game is experiencing strong growth and more are turning to play both versions of the game, something that Kerry says has come from some high profile tournaments.
“Clearly with the Sevens win at Rio and the Wallaroos playing in the Rugby World Cup they now have an audience, a growing audience, who appreciate that women play rugby and they play it really well.
And as to whether the game can grow further, Ms Chikarovski is hopeful there will be a strong commitment from the national body.
“I am taking it on faith that the ARU are going to honour their commitment that they are going to invest more in the women’s 15’s teams and also the development of players. I am hoping that the ARU will take a look at how well we can do it in NSW and they will take this as their starting point for the development of the Wallaroos over the next 4 years.”
Wallaroo and Sydney Rays player Emily Robinson says having someone like Kerry involved makes a big difference for the girls.
“Kerry’s been really great for women’s ruby and just her support and passion for rugby is the biggest thing…… it’s just awesome to be surrounded by influential women who can make a difference for us,” Emily said.
The competition does come with some of its own problems as the girls representing the NSW Country Eagles have found.
Lock Jemima Henry says distance is one of the issues they have to overcome.
“We have girls coming from Newcastle and the Hunter region and from Ballina, Moree Tamworth and Cowra to come and play rugby so obviously distance is our largest problem and it was really hard with some new players coming in but it’s a great competition and brings some great opportunity for girls to play,” Jemima said.
The NRC Women’s 15-a-side challenge began on the opening week of the men’s NRC competition with the Greater Sydney Rams runaway winners over the NSW Country Eagles women by 49-7.
The next match in Sydney is at Warringah Rugby Park on September 16, between the Eagles and the Rams.
2017 Chikarovski Cup Fixtures:
· NSW Country Eagles vs Greater Sydney Rams, 1pm, Sunday September 3 at TG Millner Field
· Sydney Rays vs Greater Sydney Rams, 1pm, Saturday September 16 at Pittwater Rugby Park
· NSW Country Eagles vs Sydney Rays, 1pm, Monday October 2 at Simon Poidevin Oval, Goulburn