After a crazy year of fundraising Batley Bulldogs Girls Rugby League U16s became the first girls rugby league team to tour Australia from the UK.
The 16 strong squad, but barmy army of 49 set off on a 4 match tour on 20th of October 2015 to play the top sides in Queensland. The base for 3 weeks would be the picturesque surfers’ paradise.
The first game was against North Ipswich Tigers, who were the Queensland State Grand Final winners at club level. The Bulldogs had been undefeated all season in the UK, but got the shock of their lives losing 48-0 to a side comprising many Kiwi and Tongan Girls.
Battered and bruised physically and mentally they had to pick themselves up and make the long journey up to the Sunshine Coast to play the District Rep team.
The Sunshine Coast Falcons were made up of the top 16 year old female players in the district. It was a fantastic game, the Bulldogs showing real bravery and skill after the Ipswich battering. The Bulldogs narrowly lost 20-16 and had two tries disallowed in the second half.
This gave them confidence for the next game as they knew they could compete and beat the Australian girls.
Game 3: Beenleigh High School, this team were the Queensland State Grand Final runners up at school level. This was a brutal game played in 30+ temperatures.
The Bulldogs got through with real grit and togetherness to run out 8-14 winners.
This then led on to the fourth and final game v Australian School Champions Merrimac High.
Again this was a physical battle played in front of 1200 crowd and Channel 9 news covering the game. It was a scorching day, with the Batley girls 12-0 down at half time. Some shaking and crying due to the heat.
The girls picked themselves up for the last 30 mins winning the second half 4-2 but losing the match, with the final score 14-4 to the Australian champions.
The Bulldogs girls earned praise from the development staff at Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans NRL teams.
One coach said to Bulldogs head coach Craig Taylor “those pommy girls of yours have hearts as big as pumpkins mate – if you played at this level every week Grand Finals all the way – no one does that to Merrimac.”
The Australian people and players from all teams could not do enough for us. At one game the Jillaroos Australian Women’s National Team came to meet and greet the Batley girls.
The girls learned so much from the tour and have started this season with 7 wins from 7; bigger and stronger than ever.
“What they learned in Australia on tour you can’t teach on the training field” said coach Craig Taylor. “The girls have seen what the game is like in the rugby capital of the world, it’s just made them hungry for more.
“Most of the girls are now focused on one day playing for England. The girls’ game is growing with very talented players at a number of clubs, but it gets no profile as a sport. If more money was put into the sport, now by the next World Cup we would be right up there with the Aussies and Kiwis.”
Report courtesy of Craig Taylor