WALLAROOS halfback Katrina Barker is set to spearhead a new Waratahs women’s team in 2018 as the club steps up its“Rebuild the Reds” program.
“We’ve already had a lot of interest from women in playing for The Waratahs next year."SARAH CAMPBELL
Barker was a part of the Australian team which finished sixth at the IRB women’s World Cup in Ireland last month.
The halfback, who moved to the region from Sydney and played for Maitland last season, is one of a host of players to commit to the Tahs.
The Waratahs president Greg Taylor said the introduction of a women’s team was part of the “Rebuild The Reds” initiative aimed at boosting player numbers.
“While our men’s teams have always been competitive, we are looking at entering an additional men’s team in 2018,” Taylor said.
“This year saw a junior team being rekindled with the intention to have two or three junior teams in 2018. The prospect of a women’s team is simply part of our program in building a stronger club.”
The Waratahs were a foundation club of the Hunter Women’s Rugby Union in 1998 and fielded a team for a number of years.
“The success of the Australian women’s team in the Rio Olympics coupled with the recent Women’s World Rugby Cup in Ireland and a groundswell of publicity about young women being able to play rugby has seen a renewed interest in The Waratahs entering a women’s team,” Taylor said.
The Waratahs, affectionately known as The Tahs and whose main playing colour is red, have already produced a Wallaroo in Kelly Sager, who represented Australia between 1999 and 2001, and also played for Australia A against England in 2002.
Sarah Campbell, one of the players driving the new women’;s team, said the Tahs planned to join Maitland, Merewether Carlton, University and Wanderers next season.
“We’ve already had a lot of interest from women in playing for The Waratahs next year,” Campbell said.
“It’s very exciting as expanding the competition to five teams would be great for women’s rugby in the Hunter.
“The Waratahs have an amazing culture and has already been so supportive in getting the ball rolling.
“Having an integrated club, where the girls get to train alongside the boys isn’t something that’s been a focus for clubs in the past, but here it’s a given, and it’s a selling point.”
Expressions of interest for coaching and manager positions in women’s, premier 1, 2 and 3 close on October 10.
For information on the women’s team, contact Campbell on 0412 163 439 or club president, Greg Taylor, on 0439 584 556.