Our area has been part of the rugby league heartland since the game was formed at the end of the 19th century.
And its clubs are now leading the rest of the country in supporting women to take up the sport.
This week, as part of our #sistersport campaign, we lift the lid on some of the opportunities out there for women and girls in our district to get involved.
In July last year, Wakefield Trinity became the first super league club to launch a ladies team, which is open to women aged 16 and above.
The side is preparing to compete in its first season in the Women’s Premier League, which begins in March.
Jo Phillips, head coach, said: “The ethos of the team is essentially building - building friendships, building confidence, building self belief, building character, building each other up, and building a future for the team and for women’s rugby league.
“We as coaches, have our targets, as do the players, but our ambition is to just perform to the best of our abilities. Win, lose, or draw, if everyone has given their best, we will always be happy irrespective of the result.”
Women of all abilities are welcome at the club, from those who have played the sport at county level and nationally to those who have never played before.
Jo said: “It’s a blend that enriches and makes for a diverse team.
“Girls and women shouldn’t allow anything to deter them. One barrier that often prevents girls and women participating is them assuming that they need experience, or that they won’t possess the skills.
“I’d encourage them to overcome that, and if they’d like to try RL, then take that first step.
“If anyone is curious, we’d encourage them to attend one or a couple of training sessions to ascertain if it’s something they’d like to do on a permanent basis.”
“This is a community game, and played at an amateur level, so there’s no contracts or anything to stipulate that you’ve got to attend every training session.
“We fully comprehend that this is a recreational sport, and that many girls and women have other commitments such as college, higher education, work and a family life, so we accept that it’s not always viable to attend every single session. That said, we always encourage everyone to exercise a certain level of commitment, but that commitment is to being the best version of themselves, and committing to their development and that of the team. We usually find that the commitment is a byproduct of the girls and women loving rugby league, and wanting to train to improve and progress.”
Castleford Tigers Ladies will also be entering the premier division, the highest level of women’s rugby league in the country, with the start of the new season next month.
The Tigers teamed up with Cutsyke Raiders to set up the team last summer.
And the ladies were given their playing numbers and kit for the first time at the club’s launch night on Monday.
Lindsay Anfield, who has played for the England women’s team at international level, is the squad’s head coach.
Press officer Seb Sternik said: “The players are currently working extremely hard in pre-season, training twice a week on the field, in the gym and even in the wrestle room.”
The team is for players who have previous experience and a good knowledge of the game and aims to provide a pathway for girls to progress within Castleford from the Cutsyke Raidettes under 14 and under 16 teams.
Featherstone Rovers established its ladies rugby league side around 25 years ago.
Women aged 16 and above, including complete beginners, are welcome to join and can take part in a taster session before committing.
Training normally includes ball drills and tackle techniques.
Head coach Brenda Dobek said: “More and more females are getting involved in sport, especially Rugby League.
“Featherstone Rovers support the ladies team, by providing first class training and playing facilities.
“At Featherstone, you will learn new skills, be part of a traditionally hard working and successful team, meet new friends, and also take part in social activities.”
The team is also linked with two junior clubs - the Bronte Barbarians Girls in Normanton and Brotherton Bulldogs Girls.
l Trinity Ladies train at Sharlston Rovers ARLFC on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7pm until 8.30pm, at a cost of £2.50 per week. Masterclasses are also held at Trinity’s Beaumont Legal Stadium. To find out more, contact Jo by email at email@example.com
l To find out more about the Castleford Tigers ladies team, email firstname.lastname@example.org
l Featherstone Rovers Ladies train on Wednesday evenings at the Rovers ground. For more details, call Brenda on 07972163317.