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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.
Now they will be history-makers again, as they become the inaugural inductees into the Women’s Hall of Fame which will sit alongside the Men’s Hall of Fame. Details of the new inductees who will join the current 28 members of the Men’s Hall of Fame will be announced later today.
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.”
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.
The Rugby Football League and Rugby League Cares announced last month the creation of a Women’s Hall of Fame, as recognition both of the development of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League, and of its very best players.
The eligibility criteria are the same as when the Hall of Fame was established in 1988 – an outstanding record of achievement at the highest level, a reputation that transcends each player’s era, and to have made a contribution to the sport that will last as long as Rugby League is played.
In addition, Hall of Fame members must have played Rugby League in the UK for at least 10 years, and have made their last UK playing appearance at least five years before the date of induction.
RL 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.
“There can be no doubt that Brenda, Lisa and Sally are true giants on whose shoulders the growing numbers of women and girls players stand.
“RL Cares is delighted to be involved in this brilliant project and is looking forward to the historic induction ceremony on October 27 and what will be a night to remember for everyone who attends.”
Brenda Dobek was a true pioneer, leading Great Britain to Ashes victory in Australia in 1996, winning a total of 20 caps, and giving outstanding service at club level to Wakefield Panthers, Townville and Featherstone Rovers, then coaching her country with distinction including in the 2008 World Cup. A skilful, athletic stand-off, she played until the age of 45, and was a consistent inspiration.
Lisa McIntosh was an international team-mate of Dobek’s, although a club rival with Bradford and Dudley Hill, and meriting a similar description. Her trailblazing as one of the early leaders of Great Britain Women’s Rugby League had additional racial and positional dimensions – she is thought to have been the first black woman to captain a British team when she was co-captain for the 1996 Ashes tour and then in sole charge for a trip to New Zealand two years later, and set new standards of athleticism for a forward in the Women’s game. She retired at the age of 42, and like Dobek she also qualified for the elite coaching programme.
Sally Milburn was a champion for Cumbria in her 23-cap career in the Great Britain pack, earning international recognition through her performances for Barrow and Askam. She was named in the World 17 following her performances in the World Cup in New Zealand in 2003, having toured Australia twice in 1996 and 2002. She joins the Yorkshirewomen Dobek and McIntosh in the Women’s Hall of Fame, following in the footsteps of fellow Cumbrians Dougie Clark, Martin Hodgson and Willie Horne who were elected to the Hall of Fame of 2005 in the cases of Clark and Hodgson, and 2014 in the case of her fellow Barrovian Horne.
The 2022 RL Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner will take place on Thursday October 27 at The Edge, Wigan. A table of 10 to this prestigious event costs £500 – to book tickets or for more information please email RL Cares Events Manager Catherine Maddy, Catherine.maddy@RLCares.org.uk