By Joanne Phillips
It was rather fitting that in the same week we celebrated International Women’s Day, one of rugby league’s high achievers hit a personal and sporting milestone. In fact it was on Mothers’ Day, Sunday March 11, that Tara Jones became the first ever female on-field match official in the Super League, in the fixture between Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity.
Jones, who was the in-goal judge, received universal praise for her debut performance, and the general consensus amongst the Rugby League fraternity was that a female match official was a welcome presence in an ever-evolving climate.
If that wasn’t enough, to seal her landmark accomplishment, it was today announced that Jones had been appointed captain of the newly established St Helens Women’s team, who will be competing in the inaugural season of the Women’s Super League.
Jones said of her newly appointed role: “To be named as Saint Helens’ women’s captain is an honour, and I feel privileged to have been given the role.”
She said: “With exciting times and challenges ahead, I am looking forward to leading the girls and working closely with Saints, both on and off the field.”
Tara Jones’ colossal achievements are testament to a young woman, who has obtained a reputation for being focused and motivated.
Jones, who mastered her number 9 position at Thatto Heath, is both revered and respected within the women’s game, and is recognised as a formidable opponent- a sentiment echoed by Saint Helens head coach Mark Brennan, who said: “To have Tara as the captain is great for the team. Tara wears her heart on her sleeve and works hard both in training and in games. Although only young, she has a wealth of experience which she will bring to this role.”
In a new era for girls’ and women’s rugby league, Tara Jones is going to be a name that is synonymous with Rugby League, and is already giving girls and women, a role model to aspire to.
Her personal achievements are victories for all girls and women within the sport, as they signify a change of direction, and growth for the roles of females within rugby league.
Tara Jones, along with other women within rugby league, are creating a new legacy, and a path for other girls and women to be inspired to follow.
We look forward to seeing Tara perform this season both in her capacity as a Match Official and her captaincy with Saint Helens.