Women’s NRL competition announced for 2018

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

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    The NRL has announced a new women’s competition will begin in 2018, aiming to capitalise on the success of the Jillaroos at the recent Rugby League World Cup.

    The newly-announced women’s premiership will be played at the back end of the season – throughout the lead-up to and during the NRL finals, with games set to be played as double-headers.

    The competition is expected to feature six teams, although they will not be announced until the new year, with state leagues to be played as they were in 2017 during the winter months.

    Finals of those state leagues will be played as double-headers alongside NRL Women in League round matches during the 2017 season before the women’s national competition gets underway.

    In another giant step forward, it’s also been confirmed the grand final of the women’s competition will be played on NRL grand final day, which is one of the biggest day’s on Australia’s sporting calendar.

    The NRL have also announced a stand-alone Women’s State of Origin match will be played on the new form of representative weekend. It will feature the men’s State of Origin Game 2 on Sunday afternoon, Pacific Test matches and the women’s match.

    This is a step up with the women’s match formerly known as the interstate challenge and brings it on equal footing with the men’s game.

    In another boost, 40 players will be on Jillaroos contracts, with the national team likely to play more Tests in New Zealand and the Pacific during 2018.

    NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said it creates a pathway which gives players the opportunity to perform.

    “For the first time, there will be a dedicated pathway for our women to follow – from grassroots junior league, to State Competitions, and on to Premiership matches and representative Origin and Test match opportunities,” Greenberg said.

    “The Women’s game has become an attraction in its own right and anyone who has seen the Jillaroos in action cannot help but be impressed by the skills and athleticism on display.

    “The NRL is determined to provide the right channels for women to follow and play rugby league – and today is a great starting point for that program.”

    The competition has been in the pipeline for some time, but Greenberg has previously talked about building enough talent to not rush the competition into existence.

    “We are not going to rush in with a larger competition until we have the numbers to give it the quality it deserves,” he said.

    “But I have no doubt that, as more women take up the game, the competition will grow.”

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.