Castleford Rugby League Lioness recognised in Hall of Fame

A Castleford woman, who played Rugby League for her country in the 1990s and 2000s, winning a total 20 caps, is to have her achievements honoured in the prestigious Women’s Rugby League Hall of Fame.
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Brenda Dobek, from Allerton Bywater, will be joined by Lisa McIntosh from Halifax and Sally Milburn from Barrow in Cumbria as the first three women players ever to receive this accolade.

All three were trailblazers during their playing career, helping to lay the foundations which have led to the development of the Women’s Super League, and to the most inclusive Rugby League World Cup in history in England this autumn when men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions run concurrently.

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Now they will be history-makers again, as they become the inaugural inductees into the Women’s Hall of Fame, to sit alongside the existing 28 members of the Men’s Hall of Fame.

Brenda Dobek will be joined by Lisa McIntosh from Halifax and Sally Milburn from Barrow in Cumbria as the first three women players ever to receive the accolade.Brenda Dobek will be joined by Lisa McIntosh from Halifax and Sally Milburn from Barrow in Cumbria as the first three women players ever to receive the accolade.
Brenda Dobek will be joined by Lisa McIntosh from Halifax and Sally Milburn from Barrow in Cumbria as the first three women players ever to receive the accolade.

Brenda Dobek, 61, was delighted when she heard the news.

“I’m surprised and excited,” she said. “There were quite few candidates so I didn’t expect to get picked. I’ve not played rugby for quite a while but my family are so proud of my achievements.”

She also believes that this is fantastic opportunity for younger players:

She said: “If I was a player these days, I would be thinking, I want to be up there. It’s just a massive privilege. Every aspiring girl will want to play for their country and get into the Hall of Fame.”

Brenda Dobek,Brenda Dobek,
Brenda Dobek,
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Prior to her Rugby League career Brenda played handball for England and travelled all over Europe, before getting into rugby at the relatively late age of 29. She went on to represent the Yorkshire County Team from 1991 to 1997, as well as playing for her club in Wakefield.

Brenda first toured with the GB Lionesses in 1996, where she was Vice Captain for the tour of Australia, during which she scored 5 tries and 2 goals, and was awarded Player of the Match in the 1st test and again in the final match of the tour.

She then went on to tour New Zealand with the GB Lionesses in 1998 as Assistant Coach, scoring one try and nine goals throughout the tour.

This was then followed by the 2000 World Series in the UK, where she was appointed Joint-Captain alongside Michelle Land, during which she scored one try and three goals.

Brenda believes it's a fantastic opportunity for younger players.Brenda believes it's a fantastic opportunity for younger players.
Brenda believes it's a fantastic opportunity for younger players.
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Brenda then went on to tour with the GB Lionesses in 2002 to Australia, where she scored 4 goals over the course of the tour.

Brenda was made Captain of the GB Lionesses squad in 2003 for the New Zealand World Cup, during which she scored 6 goals. Following this, she went on to be the England Head Coach touring the 2008 Australia World Cup, as well as touring New Zealand in a 3 test series.

She said: “I’ve left playing and coaching behind now, but it still runs through my blood.”

“I’ve always supported Castleford Tigers and have two friends who play for Stanningley Rangers women’s side so I go and watch them regularly.”

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Rugby Football League (RFL) Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer said: “On behalf of the whole sport I would like to congratulate Brenda, Lisa and Sally on this great accolade, which is the highest honour the sport can bestow on an individual.

“Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League is enjoying significant growth and that is possible because of the pioneering efforts and immense talents of these three outstanding players.

“With their induction into the Hall of Fame, Brenda, Lisa and Sally are recognised as the best of the best and have set a high bar for every woman and girl to aspire to.”

Rugby League Cares Chairman Tim Adams MBE said: “The Women’s Rugby League Hall of Fame is a wonderful concept that gives previously unsung heroes of the sport the recognition they so richly deserve.

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“There can be no doubt that Brenda, Lisa and Sally are true giants on whose shoulders the growing numbers of women and girls players in the game today stand.

“Rugby League Cares is delighted to be involved in this brilliant project and is looking forward to the historic induction ceremony in October and what will be a night to remember for everyone who attends.”

The three will be joined by the new members of the men’s Hall of Fame at an induction dinner at The Edge Arena, Wigan, on Thursday, October 27, three weeks into the World Cup.

A table of 10 to this prestigious event costs £500, or £50 for an individual ticket – to book tickets or for more information email RL Cares Events Manager Catherine Maddy, [email protected]

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As part of the Hall of Fame celebrations there will be an exhibition called Life with the Lionesses which showcases the personal journeys of the women pioneers of International Rugby League.

Visitors will be able to follow their groundbreaking journey on and off the field and see their stories and experiences brought to life, from fundraising their own tour to playing on an equal stage with their male counterparts in this year’s World Cup.

The Life with the Lionesses project is led by Julia Lee, originally from Hull and now living in Huddersfield, one of the first women to referee men’s Rugby League in the 1980s.

It aims to engage with the wider community, both inside and outside of Rugby League, and to deliver a programme of activities that will celebrate the history of the women’s game. In addition, it will showcase the achievements of women involved in Rugby League and use the stories of rugby’s women pioneers to inspire new generations.