The city finals of this season’s girls’ touch rugby competitions saw history made on two successive days. Whilst Brigshaw have long had successful boys’ teams, the Year 8 girls’ side won the school’s first ever trophy in girls’ competitions. At the next day’s Year 7 finals, Trinity Academy (a new school situated on Torre Road) won the school’s first ever trophy at any event (boys or girls, sport or otherwise). Farnley finished as runners-up in both finals, similarly Allerton Grange finished third in both age-groups, with Cockburn (Year 8) and Morley (Year 7) in fourth place. All sides were winners of their area stages.
Whilst the south Leeds sides may have finished in fourth place on both days, the beginning of girls’ teams taking part in schools’ rugby league began south of the river over 30 years ago. The driving force was local coach Graham Marcroft, when a girls’ tournament (full contact, seven-a-side) for junior schools in the city was held in Morley on 24th April 1991 and attracted 12 Morley schools. The tournament later included schools from other areas of the city and continued until 1996, by which time girls were playing alongside the boys in primary school teams. Girls played in both south Leeds teams which contested the 1996 Under 11 Watson Trophy Final: Gemma McDowell of Middleton St Mary’s, along with Claire Frost and Donna Holmes, who were both try-scorers for Morley school Seven Hills.
At high school level, south of the river schools Bruntcliffe and Matthew Murray were the first schools from the city to play in the Yorkshire Champion Schools Competition in 2004.
I would be interested to know if anyone has any memories of, or information about, the early days of girls’ schools rugby league – particularly any name of winners of the Morley tournaments from 1991 to 1996. Please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the schools’ rugby league in the city, log on to the Leeds & Hunslet SRL Facebook page Leeds & Hunslet Schools’ Rugby League | Facebook , or the website: https://leedsandhunsletsrl.wixsite.com/mysite-4
Leeds & Hunslet Schools’ Rugby League