25th November 2017, 16:13 | community
By Alastair Hancock.
The University of Liverpool Women's Rugby League team is currently the UK's only female University Rugby League team and is the only University team to play outside of a regular University League.
Founded in 2006, they were formally recognised by the University itself in 2007.
The team was started by a group of less than ten girls who were passionate about playing Rugby League.
And with 35 members in the 2014/15 season, the team gained the award for the University’s Athletic Union (AU) Top Club, the highest honour of the University's 50 different sports clubs.
Speaking to rugby-league.com, current vice-captain Sarah Darwish said: "We are so proud to call ourselves the only UK's only University Women's Rugby League team," while Alaw Parry, Captain, added, "It's an honour to be part of the team."
The club is in its 12th year and have begun to play regular fixtures over the past three years - and they are hopeful of a big 2017/18 campaign with Nick Moon bringing over ten years of coaching experience to the role as Head Coach.
The team play in the second tier of WARLA - the UK's winter women's Rugby League competition - and compete against regular community clubs such as Odsal Sedbergh, Hunslet Warriors, Dewsbury Moor and Hull Wyke.
Home games are played at the University's sports ground, while they train during the week at the same venue.
Away matches often involve lengthy return journeys, but that's something which the team take in their stride, travelling across to Yorkshire in a hired minibus to compete in their fixtures every weekend.
Nicole Amber, Team Treasurer, said: "It's great that we can help Women's Rugby League gain more recognition within the University, and continue to grow as a community in the North West beyond that."
The first time the team participated in the Winter League in 2015/16, the girls finished in fourth position - their best standing to date.
We are please to say that we will be selling a 2018 calendar to raise money for @alljoinjack !!— UoLWRL (@UoLWRL) November 13, 2017
Sales start 1st December!
Visit https://t.co/4arxURiKTP for more info!#rugbyleague #charity #calendar #2018 pic.twitter.com/PdA7x0mAGp
However, as the squad constantly changes, due to new girls starting every year and the loss of players who graduate, the calibre of opponents becomes harder.
Naomi Anderson, the team's President admitted: "It is hard to play in a competition against established teams with women who have played for upwards of six years, whilst most of our girls start with minimal experience - but it's not all results-based for us - we just love to play Rugby League."
Throughout the year, the team encourages new players to join, regardless of age, experience and whether or not they are a university student.
If interested, girls can contact the team through their Facebook page.
Support on gamedays consists of friends and family, who go and watch regularly, and Anderson said: "The supporters we do have are fantastic, and extremely vocal which is great!"
Off the field, the club have also made a huge charitable impact.
Since 2014, the team has been actively engaged in fundraising for various charities and has produced charity calendars which have seen international success for organisations including Joining Jack and Coppafeel.
The team play in WARLA - the UK's winter women's league
Anyone can get involved - whether a student or not
This year, they have continued giving support in finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which affects thousands of children every year.
The team is are looking to raise over £1,000 for the Joining Jack charity by selling a 2018 naked calendar from December 1.
Additionally, the girls will participate in the Run Wigan Festival that will take place in March, as well as actively advertising the charity throughout the year.
This week, it is 'This BUCS Girl Can' week, as each academic year, BUCS organise a female-focused week of action, engaging universities across the country, who run a range of activities to support the campaign.
To celebrate this, University of Liverpool Women's Rugby League team are focusing on getting girls to overcome their fear in training, which for many is tackling.
Naomi Anderson commented: "To do this, we have practiced tackling in twos or threes, so girls constantly feel like they are supported and we hope our girls get more confident and can use this skill outside of rugby, essentially tackling whatever comes their way!"
Anyone, whether at the university or not, in welcome to be part of the club.