THE Illawarra's girls rugby season has kicked off early, with Shamrocks hosting the opening round of the girls rugby sevens competition on Friday night, which included an enthusiastic Shoals team.
The Illawarra Rugby Union has restructured the girls competition this season, with the under 15 and under 17 sevens competitions moved to a Friday night.
The season will run for six rounds plus finals, throughout March and April, with plans for a second competition later in the year, should the demand be there.
Illawarra Rugby Union junior chairman Wayne Cusack labelled the evening a big success and said the quality of competition was quite high.
"It was a great atmosphere," Cusack said.
"Plenty of the kids were smiling, girls were filling in if teams were short, it was a great night.
"The quality surprised me to a certain extent. There was a fairly high standard in the 15s, who were all relatively new to the game.
"It was so good that we're now looking at re-entering an under 15 girls rep team in the Country Championships, based on what we saw."
The standout performers were the Campbelltown under 17s and Kiama under 15s, with the Campbelltown under 15s also emerging as a talented squad.
One of the highlights of the evening was Kiama's clash with the Campbelltown under 15s, which was a hard-fought affair ultimately claimed by Kiama 15-nil.
The competition comes as the Illawarra Rugby Union continues their investment in junior girls rugby union, with the association hoping to provide a clear pathway to open age representative honours.
"Our aims are to bring new girls into the sport and provide them with the opportunity to play the game, then as a subset of that, to develop our player base so we can field rep teams.
"Next year some of our 15s will move into 17s and hopefully down the track the 17s who turn 18 will form the basis of a women's competition, which is a long-term goal."
Round two will be played at Eridge Park in Bowral and Cusack urged all girls interested to contact their local rugby club.