GROUP Three Junior Rugby League will introduce an under 10 girl's tackle competition this year.
So far five teams have nominated and Group Three president Warren Blissett said there could be a sixth starter.
Mr Blissett said teams would have the option of playing on Friday nights when girl's league tag fixtures are played or on Saturdays with the other tackle grades. He said girls can also play in the boy's under 10 teams.
"Last year we had an all girls side from Forster-Tuncurry playing in the under nine boy's competition. Starting the under 10s this year has stemmed from this,'' Mr Blissett said.
He said next year there'll be an under 12 girl's tackle competition along with under 10s and this will be the continuing progression through the grades.
In the last six weeks of the season a tackle competition for under 14 and 16 girls will start and will culminate with grand finals in late August
Junior league kicks off for the first time this year on Saturday when the annual knockout is held at Taree Recreation Ground. Ten fields will be in operation with games starting from 9am. Mr Blissett said the grounds have recovered from the recent floods.
"We've been given the okay to play,'' he said.
The season-proper will start on Saturday May 1.
Mr Blissett said there has been a 'slight rise' in participation numbers this year, continuing what he described as a 'positive trend' for the code in this area.
Ten clubs from Forster-Tuncurry to Port Macquarie will contest the grades from under sixes through to under 16s. Under 18s return to the senior league this year after playing with the juniors in 2020 when Group Three cancelled the senior competitions due to the pandemic.
Mr Blissett said the teams in the under nines will play the last three games of the season on the mod league fields. Under nines play on smaller mini league fields, with mod league starting from under 10s.
"It will help the players transition from mini league, played on smaller fields, to mod league in under 10s on bigger fields,'' he explained.
As with the senior league Mr Blissett said referee numbers will be a concern, especially for the more experienced officials required for the older age groups.
Meanwhile the Group Three senior league season launch will be held at the Wingham Services Club on Friday night.
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