Fri, December 14, 2018 - 21:27

Female students in a rugby league of their own

Game on for rugby league: Pictured left to right are: Sophie Johnson, Sports Development Officer at the University; student Hattie Talbott; and student sabbatical officer Ashleigh Davies.


It’s traditionally a sport played by big blokes who crash into each other with great force.

But now female students are being given the chance to play a non-contact version of the game as a way of keeping fit and healthy while at university.

The University of Hull has teamed up with Active Humber and Super League teams Hull FC and Hull KR to increase participation in rugby league across the city.

As part of the #UnitedbyRL campaign, the University’s sports team are organising female hub sessions, where students will be able to enjoy the game without having to use full force tackling.

Sophie Johnson, Sports Development Officer at the University, said:

“The emphasis is on having fun and getting your heart rate up. There is no pressure to move on to a team or club. If students just want to turn up and play, they can do just that.

“This is an opportunity for female students to try something new and embrace Hull’s rugby league culture. It’s also a chance to meet new people. The version of the game we will be offering eliminates the fear factor of being tackled.”

Sophie said the skill sets from netball, particularly catching and passing, are “massively transferable to rugby league”. She added:

“This is a non-contact version of the sport. Think of it like netball or basketball, where anyone contact is a penalty. It will keep you fit and is a fun alternative to spending 20 minutes on the treadmill.”

Student HattieTalbott, 20, is one of the first people to sign up for the sessions, which will start after the summer holidays. She said:

“I’ve only watched one game of rugby league in my life, so it will be interesting. It’s always good to give new things a go. I was thinking of joining the women’s rugby union team but hopefully this will take off and the University will have its own women’s rugby league team.”

Former student sabbatical officer Ashleigh Davies, 22, played rugby league at school and supports Castleford Tigers. She said:

“A lot of people have heard of rugby union but rugby league is only played along the M62. This is a really good chance to try something different and it’s not as scary as you might think!”

In addition to the female hub sessions, the University will be running mixed turn up and play sessions of “tagged”, where participants have to pull a tag off their opponents’ shorts or belt to complete a tackle.

Tagged is a new version of the game being piloted in London and the University of Hull is the only institution outside the capital to offer it to students.  The plan is to hold many of the sessions at halls of residence to make it easier for students to attend.

#UnitedbyRL will also see the University host a College 9s Tournament open to further education institutions across Yorkshire. Staff from the University will also work closely with representatives from Hull FC, Hull KR and Active Humber to deliver training and professional development for local coaches.

For those female students who enjoy their first experience of rugby league, there will be opportunities to progress by taking part in the “tagged” sessions and the University’s Fabulass programme.

The Fabulass programme offers a range of female-only activities. In its first year, almost 800 students took part in the programme, which offered activities including, touch rugby, squash and dance.

The University can also help link-up students with local female rugby league teams and get involved in university rugby league pathways. Although there isn’t currently a universities’ league, there is an England women’s rugby league team and students can go for trials.

Sophie added:

“When we have run female touch rugby sessions in the past, the feedback has been fantastic. Anyone can take part and there is no minimum level of fitness.”

The #UnitedbyRL campaign, which is funded by Sport England and monitored by the charity Rugby League Cares, is part of an on-going strategy to increase participation levels in sport at the University.

As part of its strategy, the University is investing more than £10m in sport and exercise facilities at the Cottingham Road campus, including a new sports hall, fitness suite, floodlit pitch and pitch-side changing rooms.

To promote the #UnitedbyRL campaign, the sports team will be running give-it-a-go sessions and activities around campus and at the halls of residence during welcome week in September. 

More information will also be available on the Campus Sport website, once it is available. You can also follow Campus Sport on Twitter and Facebook.

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