Merewether’s rugby star, Katrina Barker, has earned a spot in the annals of history – she was one of 30 players that started in the inaugural season of the women’s XV competition, the Super W.
The opening match of the five-week season saw the NSW Women face off against Queensland Women’s XV, as part of a double-header with the Reds vs Bulls at Suncorp Stadium last Saturday.
Barker, who plays for University in the Novocastrian competition, ran out at inside-centre in the match.
The NSW Women claimed bragging rights in the opening clash, putting the Queensland Women away for 18-0 and denying them the chance to score their first competition points.
The match also saw Barker come up against fellow Newcastle high-flyer Sarah Riordan, who plays for Merewether Carlton in the local competition.
Riordan was named as part of the 30-woman squad for Queensland, and ran out in the NSW-QLD clash as the outside centre, and wearing the number 13 shirt.
Maitland’s Mollie Gray, who represents Australia on the international stage, missed the Super W season due to a long-term knee injury, but joined the commentary team on Fox Sports.
The competition is massive step forward for women’s progression in rugby, but the league’s fledgling season has been overshadowed by the revelation players in the five-week national competition would not be paid.
NSW Rugby boss Andrew Hore commented on the implementation of supermarket vouchers in lieu of match payments, and said the competition will focus on development over earnings.
He said it was better to spend scarce dollars on ‘vouchers for supermarkets’ or training gear than on match fees for players.
“It is the same for the National Rugby Championship, we don’t want to fall into a situation where we think the first thing we have to do for any competition is to start remunerating the individual straight away at the expense of making it the best competition it can be,” Hore said.
“We should focus initially on creating great competitions that broadcasters and sponsors want to purchase.”
The second match of the Super W season for NSW Women will kick off on March 18 at Allianz Stadium, where they will take on the Western Force Women.
All matches are also shown on Fox Sports, although none are aired live.