Rugby League

Womens Rugby League

23 Apr 2024

New exhibition to showcase women’s rugby league in Cumbria

New exhibition to showcase women’s rugby league in Cumbria

An exhibition that brings to life over 40 years of women's rugby league in Cumbria will be held at the Northern Competitions Stadium - the home of Barrow Raiders - on Saturday 27 April.

The event will feature memorabilia including medals, trophies, and newspaper reports that showcase the forgotten history of grassroots women’s rugby league since its inception in Barrow and beyond.

It forms part of the Women in Rugby League: The Pioneering Years project, which is marking over 40 years since the founding of the first women’s clubs ahead of the fortieth anniversary in 2025 of the establishment of what would become the Women’s Amateur Rugby League Association.

Present on the day will be a host of current and former players including Mary Mac, now the director of women’s rugby at Barrow Raiders.

Mary Mac, who has organised the exhibition, wants to re-engage former players by telling their stories and hopes they can share mementos and souvenirs of their time in the sport.

She said: “I am incredibly excited and honoured to be hosting this event which will shine a spotlight on the early years of women’s rugby league in the region and its growth since then.

“We want to unearth as much memorabilia as we can and I hope that everyone involved in women’s rugby league can try and dig out anything they can find and share it with us.

“The event on 27 April will take place from 11:45am before the Raiders’ Betfred Women’s Super League game against York Valkyrie.

“It will be a fantastic day and a real celebration of those pioneering women in rugby league.”

Also present will be Julia Lee, former referee and RFL director who is the driving force behind the project.

She said: “We want everyone who was part of women’s rugby league in the early years to come along and be part of the celebrations.

“Without them, there’d have been no teams and we’d love to hear about their experiences and share their memories.

“Although they may not realise it, these women were real pioneers who are still role models today and we want them to realise the importance of what they did.

“Our aim is for them to feel a sense of belonging and for others to learn about what they did.”

Mary Mac and Julia Lee will be available for interview. The event will take place on Saturday 27 April, 11:45am, with an entry price of £5.00. This is public entry and includes a Women’s Super League fixture and curtain-raiser.

The  Women in Rugby League: The Pioneering Years project will rescue and preserve the memories and the records of the women and their male allies who have played and maintained women’s rugby league clubs since the 1980s.

It aims to ensure their achievements are remembered and their legacy is preserved so that girls and young women can learn from their experiences and discover new role models.

The project will collect, catalogue and display the history of women’s club rugby league, leading to workshops, exhibitions, and other public events in 10 major rugby league-playing towns across northern England.

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