Warwick women break barriers to assemble formidable NRL team
RUGBY LEAUGE: At 19, Maddy Eyre thought her footy days were numbered with no rugby league competitions in the region for women to play after high school.
It wasn’t until last week when the possibility of a Cowboys side in the 2020 TRL tournament got her thinking about lacing up her boots for another season
“The first time I got involved in rugby league was when I was in school, and they have us an opportunity to play at a gala day, and us girls really enjoyed it,” Eyre said.
“I stopped playing when I finished school because the pathways for girls to play really wasn’t there and because I got a full-time job.
“It’s really good to see another local club getting involved and wanting women to get involved with the sport too.”
The 2018 introduction of the NRLW competition was an important milestone for female athletes like Eyre, who said it was inspiring for young girls to see the game televised.
“It shows how much support you do get at that higher level, and that there opportunities to keep playing when you finish school,” she said.
“At school, boys used to go on about how girls shouldn’t be playing and that it was a boys sport, and then they’d watch us play and see that we were really good and a lot of us had talent.”
Cowboys president Dayne Barrett said the response for the side was overwhelming, with approximately 15 or 16 women already expressing their interest.
“It’s really great to have that much interest, it shows how much women want to get involved in the game on the field,” Barrett said.
“I think it’s a flow on effect from the junior competition, because there has been quite a bit of interest shown at that level, so it’ll be great to give the girls a pathway to continue developing their skills.”
The sport not only impacts athletes on the field according to Eyre, who said playing in the team environment had a many benefits.
“It’s good to be surrounded by a good group of people who want to be there and are motivating you to keep going,” she said.
“It’s definitely a good way to boost your social confidence and your self-esteem because you’ve got people around that all want to do well and win.”
While for some women, there might be something that holds them back, the front rower said playing is “definitely a good stress reliever sometimes.”
“Just as long as you’re committed to what you’re doing, you aren’t going to get hurt,” she said.
“There’s a lot of people that haven’t given it a go and who just completely ride it off, but I think once they see it and give it a go they would love it.”