The NRL has announced on Wednesday that they will be launching their very own women’s competition in 2018. It comes after much speculation around the topic following the inception and success of the AFLW this year.
The NRL’s governing body has said that the competition will be structured as a round-robin, set to take place in the weeks prior and during the NRL Finals series. The tournament is set to conclude on Grand Final day in what I set to be a triple header.
There will be a mid-season State of Origin match and in a landmark decision by the league, players will be offered contracts for the national team. The Jillaroos have been scheduled to play matches in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
There will be “elite training camps throughout the year” for the 40 contracted Jillaroos players according to NRL boss Todd Greenberg. It is yet to be confirmed how many teams will be involved or who they will be however it is expected that there could be up to six. Teams are being encouraged to apply for licences and will form the basis for the decision.
Following the Jillaroos world cup win last week, stars Corban McGregor and Ruan Sims spoke of their desire for a women’s competition. “The last piece in the puzzle is this national competition, but what was more exciting for me was that we genuinely have a juniors to Jillaroos pathway” said Sims.
She continued on to say that she believed rugby league was now heading in the right direction.
McGregor reiterated the points said by Sims stating that she was “excited” for the future of rugby league in Australia and pleased with the changing attitudes.
The Jillaroos recently won the world cup, beating New Zealand 23-16 in the final. The tournament ran at the same time as the men’s competition, however was based solely in Cronulla. It was only the women’s final that left the southern suburb, to be paired as a double heading with the men’s world cup final.
Greenberg also highlighted his pleasure in the success of rugby league now having a genuine pathway for girls. Women’s rugby league is the fasted growing segment in the sport and Greenberg said that he was “very proud of the work” that has been achieved to this point.
The women’s NSW competition is set to continue to run through winter of 2018 despite the start of the national women’s competition overlapping.