The NRL has today lifted the lid on an elite national women’s rugby league competition that’s set to revolutionise the sport in 2018.
The Holden Women’s Premiership will see four teams contest the first ever NRL women’s season throughout the course of the men’s NRL Finals series this year, with the league today launching the league under the “same game, our way” banner.
— NRL (@NRL) March 26, 2018
The NRL also confirmed that St. George-Illawarra, the Sydney Roosters, the Brisbane Broncos, and the New Zealand Warriors will comprise the four inaugural franchises to compete in the women’s league this year.
Those teams were selected primarily for geographical reasons, maximising the spread of teams across rugby league’s key heartlands of greater Sydney, Queensland, and New Zealand.
Both the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Cronulla Sharks launched bids to be included in the league’s inaugural year, but missed out at this time. Cronulla in particular are furious at being overlooked, after playing a pioneering role in establishing and providing pathways for female talent, including hosting last year’s Women’s Rugby League World Cup, contracting 34 players – including the first woman signed to a full-time playing contract – and lining up a six-figure jumper sponsor for a women’s NRL side.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg heralded today’s launch as a major step forward, and pointed towards expansion of the league in the coming years.
We think we’ve got the balance right for our first year and I would expect more NRL clubs to join the competition in the years ahead.
The formation of a women’s premiership is one of the most exciting developments the game has seen. For the first time, our best female players will have the opportunity to play in an NRL competition – on the game’s biggest stage.
Jillaroos stars Kezie Apps and Sam Bremner have been strongly linked to the Roosters throughout the club’s bidding process, while Queensland Origin side captain Karina Brown has openly expressed interest in playing for the Broncos. Members of New Zealand’s dominant Kiwi Ferns national side are expected to feature heavily in the Warriors’ inaugural lineup. In all, 100 players will be required to fill the rosters of the four teams ahead of the historic season kick-off later this year.
The NRL Women’s Premiership will cap off a history-making year for women’s rugby league in Australia and New Zealand, following on the heels of the first-ever women’s State of Origin clash, which is set to take place during the men’s Origin standalone weekend in June.
No specific details on the format of the first season were announced today, with scheduling and match-ups to be announced by the NRL in the coming weeks.