The Roar
The Roar



Women In League Round sidelined by Manly fiasco but there's still time to play your part

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28th July, 2022

Hello? Can you hear me? I’m over here.

No, behind the absolute cluster that was the Manly Pride Jersey disaster.

No, past the controversy from the Cowboys and Tigers game.

No, keep going on from Dale Finucane copping two weeks for an accidental head knock. And Corey Waddell’s five games for eye gouging.

That’s fine, I’ll wait while you wave to David Nofoaluma as he boards the plane to Melbourne.

I am so sorry, just a bit further. Walk past the toilets where Kevin Proctor filmed himself vaping.

Yes! Here I am! Women in League Round.

That’s exactly how it feels right now. The entire round has been overlooked and shoved to the back.

Roosters players celebrate their 2022 NRLW premiership title

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

A round that is meant to be a celebration of all the wonderful women involved in our game who have paved the way for future generations. 

An opportunity to thank the ladies who spend their Saturday mornings out in the cold making sure your kid’s local footy game goes ahead. To applaud the businesswomen who have broken through glass ceilings, and everyone else in between – not just the females – who have played their part in promoting women in league both on and off the field.

Instead, it has all been completely kiboshed by some of the most unimaginable and ridiculous head scratchers our game has seen.

The main focus this week has obviously been over in the Northern Beaches. Rainbow-Gate has clogged the airwaves and hijacked the headlines. It has been an absolute disaster from start to finish that has resulted in seven of Manly’s star players refusing to wear the jersey for religious beliefs and stepping down from the crucial battle against the Roosters.

In an attempt to create a jersey that would promote pride, inclusion and equality has unfortunately caused nothing but damage, division, and heartache.

While I applaud the idea and appreciate the sentiment that the Sea Eagles were trying to make, they missed the mark completely. In turn, they have taken the spotlight off a really important time on the NRL calendar.


Whenever any of the numerous dramas from this week were discussed in the media, someone would pipe up at the end and say “Oh! And don’t forget it’s Women in League Round!” But the meaning and importance of it was hardly ever discussed.

The Women in League round started in 2007, a brilliant initiative by Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page. Each year it has grown from strength to strength, not just seen anymore as chance to thank the mums and partners of the players for all the sacrifices they have made. It is now also a time to reflect on how far we have come as a sport on the inclusion of women and to acknowledge just how many amazing ladies there are in all facets of the game.

There are women on the NRL board like Professor Megan Davis and running clubs like Gold Coast Titans co-owner Rebecca Frizzell. We have women like Yvonne Sampson and Danika Mason talking about the game on our TV screens, like Katie Brown on the radio, and like Alicia Newton typing away.

There are those like our own Mary Konstantopoulos who are just so amazing I need a whole other article to list off all her accomplishments.

They are officiating matches like Kasey Badger and Belinda Sharpe. They are in charge of Origin teams like Kylie Hilder.

And finally, they are showing the world what playing like a girl really means.


The NRLW is a testament to all the hard work and determination that those like Jillaroos legend Ruan Sims have put in for many years to help the women’s game reach new heights.

It started in 2018 and was seen as a support act or even a curtain raiser to the men’s game. But as support grew, so did the talent, the toughness, and the product. It is now viewed as its own competition, with its own fan base, own audience, and its own identity.

And now it has its own superstars. Names like Ali Brigginshaw, Jess Sergis, Millie Boyle and Simaima Taufa will be etched in folklore.

At the Women in League Round Launch on Tuesday, ARLC Chairman Peter V’Landys said he’d pay “any admission price to watch St George Illawarra star Emma Tonegato.

Emma Tonegato runs the ball for NSW. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“If she’s not one of the best fullbacks, male or female, I’ve ever seen … she is the future. She will attract new fans to the game.”

At the same function, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told the audience his son came up to him last month and said “Dad, have you seen this sick video on Tik Tok?” When he looked at this son’s phone, it was a video of young Jada Taylor scoring that phenomenal 109m try for NSW in the Under-19 State of Origin. 


This was only the morning after the game, and it had already been viewed 1.3 million times, just on Tik Tok alone.

Earlier this year at a Parramatta NRL game, a journalist was walking around with a microphone and chatting to people in the crowd. He asked a little girl who her favourite Eels player was. She confidently responded with “Bo Vette-Welsh”. The look on the journo’s face was priceless.

See? This is what we should have been talking about all week.

So now we have devoted more than enough time to all the craziness that the rugby league world has produced this week, please push it to the side. Let Women of League Round come to the front of the pack to have its moment in the spotlight.

To all the men and women that have helped grow the game to where it is, as well as create opportunities in and around it for ladies like myself, I am forever grateful.

The theme of this year’s Women in League Round is “Play Your Part to Change the Story.”


Have you played yours?