This month the NRL unveiled a new era in rugby league for women – a program of events covering everything from an NRL Women’s Premiership to a stand-alone State of Origin match and Jillaroos international matches.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said that, for the first time, a Women’s Premiership will be held in 2018, featuring up to six teams aligned with NRL Clubs.
Why is this a good thing for NRL Touch Football?
It provides our female athletes with yet another pathway. Touch Football’s origins are in rugby league, and now, female Touch Footy players not only have the opportunity to play Touch Football at the top level – through the Elite 8, State of Origin, Trans Tasman, World Cup, etc – but also opportunities to play rugby league at the highest level if they wish.
The NRL and Touch Football Australia formed a partnership back in 2013, and NRL Touch Football CEO Steve Mitchell is excited about the ever increasing opportunities for female Touch players with our partner sport.
“We know that a lot of our Touchies have an interest in both our game and rugby league. Many of them follow both, some of them play both..
We also know that some girls start out in Touch Football, eventually start playing rugby league, then return to Touch Football, since Touch is a lifetime sport that some play into their sixties and beyond.”
There are so many former Touch Football players that play in the men’s NRL comp. And many World Cup-winning Jillaroos superstars – including Caitlin Moran, Maddie Studdon, Ali Brigginshaw, Nakia Davis-Welsh, Isabelle Kelly and Sam Bremner – either still participate in Touch Football or came through that pathway.
Let’s hope we see plenty of Touch Footy athletes make it into the brand new NRL women’s program.
In case you missed it, Mr Greenberg said the new NRL women’s program will feature:
- The Premiership, scheduled to be played as ‘double-headers’ in the lead up to and during NRL Finals matches;
- A stand-alone State of Origin match (formerly known as the Interstate Challenge) between New South Wales and Queensland, played during the NRL’s representative weekend in mid-June;
- State League competitions, with Grand Finals to be played as double-headers prior to Women In League Round matches;
- A National Championships Carnival and Talent Combine, congregating the best state talent on a national stage and providing a sequential pathway for female players to progress to the elite level;
- The Harvey Norman Jillaroos playing international matches in the Pacific and New Zealand;
- The Jillaroos competing in the Commonwealth Games Championship in Redcliffe, ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games;
- In addition, Mr Greenberg said an initial 40 players would receive Jillaroos contracts, which would include payments for matches and participating in a series of high performance camps, as well as access to high performance staff and elite athlete training programs year-round.