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Future of women’s rugby looking good in Hunter

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Former Hunter Wildfires star Theresa Mauli firmly believes women’s rugby, especially on the local scene, is “on the way up”.

Now assisting the female pathways programs at The Waratahs, as well as overseeing the club’s teams in Hunter Junior Rugby Union’s 2022 Girls Summer 7s competition, the ex-representative player sees nothing but a bright future for the code in the region.

Even her own organisation, the Tahs, dominated the senior ladies’ ranks.

“If you’d asked me two years ago, I don’t think junior rugby in women’s or girls was strong,” Mauli said.

“But, lately, the sport’s received so much support, from the parents and volunteers, which is fantastic.

“Obviously, a lot of clubs need more helpers like ours.

“However, women’s rugby will become stronger.

“I’d probably give it another three or four years… you’d be looking at a really good Hunter comp by then.”

Mauli admitted a localised conduit to higher honours was hugely beneficial to the area, too.

“It’s great to have the girls wanting to play for the Wildfires,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“The last thing we need is to lose them to Sydney or the Central Coast or, even, to rugby league.

“We want our juniors to stay here in the Hunter.

“A few weeks ago, the Wildfires’ 15s and 17s 7s girls travelled to Sydney for a tournament – they did amazingly well.

“So, it would be terrific to see the under-13s look up to them.

“It’s the same at the Waratahs.

“At the moment, we’re number one on the ladder and picked up the minor premiership again in 2021.

“We’ve gone three years as major and minor premiers (2018-19-20).

“And, winning an extra title would have been great this season.

“But, you don’t want to have a strong senior team – and a non-existent junior nursery.

“That won’t help the club moving forward.”

Mauli also cited recent moves by the Melbourne Rebels to become one of the first Super W franchises to pay its players as a positive step.

“That’s something hopefully, in the future, that someone like my 13-year-old daughter can aspire towards,” she said.

“If we all aim for those types of goals, it can only benefit women’s rugby in the Hunter.”

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