Cronulla Gives NRL A Kick In The Arse, Forms Its Own Women’s Nines Side

With the AFL‘s historic formation of a Women’s National League last month that is set to run its debut season next year, the NRL is left as the only major Australian national sporting organisation without a dedicated women’s league.

But today the Cronulla Sharks took a big step forward in the push for a national women’s league competition, announcing the formation of women’s Nines side that will compete in a high-profile exhibition match this August.
The Sharks have made a dedicated pledge to provide pathways for young women to play rugby league at an elite level, and their Nines side is expected to be replete with some of the top talent currently available in Australian women’s rugby. Jillaroos stars Ruan Sims, Allana Ferguson, Sam Bremner, Corban McGregor, and Maddie Studdon are all expected to feature in the squad and subsequent game.
Jillaroos captain Sims was on hand for the Sharks’ announcement this morning, and spoke to media of the need to change the way league is talked about, which will in turn aid a growing shift in attitudes towards women’s sport as a whole.

“That change of language and attitudes towards female rugby league players is crucial to creating professionalism and an avenue to create a national competition.”

“We have the talent base but it’s a matter of having a defined pathway for the girls and what the Sharks are doing here is the first step.”

“It’s not just lip service to women in league. The Sharks are committed to this and the NRL is beginning to back us too.”

Meanwhile Jillaroos fullback Bremnar noted the urgency needed to push for a women’s NRL competition, with the threat of other codes stealing athletes away from the game looming large.

“Every other code around seems to be turning professional and we are losing players to these codes because of the opportunities they present.”

“This chance will mean more girls stick to the game they love because there’s a way to achieve greater things in rugby league.”

The Cronulla Women’s Nines side will be coached by Jason Stanton, who previously coached the Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens side to the inaugural Women’s Sevens World Cup in 2009.

The exhibition game will take place at the Sharks’ home Southern Cross Stadium.
Photo: Tim Smith/Getty.