New England Rugby Union: Elkettes back in the NERU title race

TRIUMPHANT: The 2016 New England Rugby Union premiers - the Glen Innes Elkettes.
TRIUMPHANT: The 2016 New England Rugby Union premiers - the Glen Innes Elkettes.

After that history-making 2016 season, the Elkettes didn't take the field in the NERU competition again.

But this year, they're back and will be even more prepared than last time around.

The 2016 team spent most of the season at the top of the table with 23 wins from 25 matches, and some massive scorelines in their favour along the way.

A host of players from that squad will return as well as talent from Inverell and Moree.

Central North representative and Elkettes' captain Sarah Byrne.

Central North representative and Elkettes' captain Sarah Byrne.

Glen Innes local and Elkettes captain Sarah Byrne has spent her rugby career playing for the Inverell Highlanders and was tasked with pulling together the team in the shortened 2020 NERU season.

"We are shaping up to be a great team on paper," she said.

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"As the Central North comp has been cancelled this year, we have picked up some of the best players around - Lenniki Craigie and Bella Reardon from Inverell, Belle Brazel from Moree and Lauren Clarke [from Armidale Blues and Robb College] has moved to Glen.

"We also have a few girls who haven't played rugby 7s before like Sarah Woolfe and Tiarna McDonald but have speed to burn and will pick the game up quickly."

"Elk park also sees the return of Kate Say, Alisa Tunamena and Brea Grange who played in the 2016 grand final-winning team."

The women's sevens competition will take place alongside the men's tournament, which starts on July 25.

Glen Innes have the bye first up and will play at home to Robb College in round two on August 1.

Women's sevens in the region has grown immensely since the year the Elkettes won it and Byrne is certain winning another premiership is going to be a tough ask. She hopes the town gets behind the team.

"With there being doubts about footy being played at all this year, we are looking forward to getting on the paddock and anticipate that there will be a high level of skill across all the women's teams," she said.