Celebrating the ladies of the Laurieton Stingrays

Natalie Mane from the Senior Women’s Stingray team.

FOOTY boots will be traded in for heels this Saturday as the female players and supporters of the Laurieton Hotel Stingrays RLFC don the pink for the club’s Ladies Day.

This special event is being held in recognition of all the ladies associated with the Laurieton Hotel Stingrays RLFC; from the mums who travel to the games each weekend, the canteen volunteers, and importantly the female players taking the field each Saturday.

But what does this day and other similar events really mean for women in sport and in particular rugby league?

News Of The Area (NOTA) joined both the Camden Haven Eagles and Laurieton Stingrays at their recent training sessions and spoke to Under 15’s Girls Tackle coaches Peter Bird and Joe Cabronetti, and Whitney McCabe, who coaches the Laurieton Stingrays women and the North Coast Bulldogs women’s side.

“I am extremely impressed with the dedication of the team, especially their effort and commitment to their training and fitness schedules,” Whitney told NOTA.

Since the establishment of the women’s team last year the club has seen amazing growth and development in their female ranks.

“This year has seen a mixture of both experienced and new players,” Whitney said.

“Some of the players first played together for Camden Haven High School and have reunited as teammates again, while there are some players who have switched over from other sporting codes and will be playing rugby league for their very first time this year.”

This year is the first time the Camden Haven Junior Rugby League Club has entered an all-girl tackle team into the local competition.

“The girls are fantastic, they are so keen,” Peter Bird said, declaring his decision to step up as team coach as “one of the best things” he has ever done in sport.

Peter credits the increased coverage of women in sport, including the Women’s State of Origin series, as being a platform to encourage young girls and women to “challenge themselves and to try rugby league or play other sports previously dominated by males”.

Under 15’s Girls Tackle Captain Chloe Gaskin-Hogan has recently traded her netball bib in for footy boots.

She was inspired to transition to rugby league as she “loves footy” and because her whole family are all involved in the sport in playing, refereeing, coaching and leadership roles.

In 2023, the record for female participation in rugby league across the state was broken – smashing the 24,000 barrier for the first time – with 24,870 female participants across NSW.

This figure is expected to continue to grow as registration dates are not cut off until 30 June.

“The fact we have already set a new benchmark for participation figures in NSW two months before registrations close reflects the popularity of the game for all,” NSW Rugby League Chief Executive David Trodden said.

Not only are more women playing league, but an estimated 45 percent of all fans of the code are now women, with some NRL clubs – such as the Panthers, Knights and Titans – having more female fans than male fans. Jarryd Gaskin, Club President of both the Camden Haven JRLFC and the Laurieton Stingrays RLFC told News Of The Area, “It is fantastic to see so many women and young girls joining both the Laurieton Stingrays and Camden Haven Eagles.

“Their passion and enthusiasm is a great asset and our Laurieton Ladies Day is our way of saying thank you for all that they do.

“Chur, chur.”


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