NRL Launches Womens NRL - Rejects Souths and Cronulla applications

27th March 2018

Four teams are set to compete in the inaugural NRL Holden Women's Premiership in August with the Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters, St George Illawarra Dragons and New Zealand Warriors the first participating clubs. Geographical location played a major part in the decision-making process according to NRL CEO Todd Greenberg. The decision came after talking with senior members of the Jillaroos squad and coaching staff. It is believed the NRL's decision to spread the clubs across two states and two countries was done to initially cover as many areas as possible with an eye on expansion in future seasons.

The Broncos and Roosters' inclusions were strategy based, with each club representing Brisbane and Sydney, while the Warriors had a strong application given the dominant New Zealand Kiwi Ferns are set to feature heavily in the squad. "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," Greenberg said. "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." Clubs will now begin a contract process to recruit players with more than 100 required across the four squads for balance purposes and to cover injuries. Jillaroos stars Kezie Apps and Sam Bremner have been the faces for the Red V throughout the club's bid, while Queensland skipper Karina Brown has already expressed an interest to lead the Broncos. Teams to miss out after applying included the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Cronulla Sharks, with Greenberg indicating there was a fear over short-term player quality and workload. Sharks CEO Barry Russell was disappointed Cronulla had missed out on having a team in the competition. "I am extremely disappointed and dumbfounded by the decision," Russell said in a statement. "We have sound experience and in-depth knowledge of women’s rugby league after launching the Cronulla Sharks Women’s Series team and hosting the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in 2017."

Greenberg responded to the Sharks' comments and encouraged the club to continue with their female growth in the game. "That's their emotional response and I understand their disappointment," he said. "Let me say we had six very good bids. The two teams that missed out have handled themselves very professionally despite some of their disappointment. "There was a decision back in 1908 and JJ Giltinan was in my shoes today. He had to let down a few people. We're at that point today, but the women's game will grow enormously in the years ahead." The news completes an historic occasion for the female competitions with the first ever Holden women's State of Origin set to feature as part of the standalone representative weekend in June.

Souths Owner Russell Crowe Wants Answers

28th March 2018

Souths owner, Russell Crowe has slammed the NRL as “ignorant” while revealing South Sydney are demanding answers from boss Todd Greenberg as to why they were overlooked for an historic women’s league team licence. In the wake of the NRL’s controversial and shock decision to reject the Rabbitohs and Cronulla - two leaders in the growth and promotion of the women’s game - from the new NRL women’s competition, Crowe has weighed into the widespread confusion over the decision with all of his Hollywood muscle. Having understood that Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly had described the entire process of licence inclusion “shambolic”, Crowe said Souths had already moved to request answers from the NRL. “The club is waiting for the NRL to clarify its decision making process. We have reasons to believe that ours was infact the best and most developed proposal put forward and we are dismayed and bewildered they have chosen to exclude us and ignore the years of work and the achievements to date of the team that would have represented us . It’s a pointless, ignorant step to exclude us as a club and put South Sydney women on the back burner."

The NRL’s decision to block the Rabbitohs and Sharks from entering the competition, former Jillaroo Allana Ferguson said it continued to defy belief. “With the global ground swell of womens sport and the pathway female league player have laid over decades, the time for a bold action was seen and taken," Ferguson said. “The Sharks promotion of the women’s league encouraged the games bureaucrats to take notice. “While I recognise that decisions were made based on geographic locations, the exclusion of some clubs defies belief. “The Cronulla Sharks have the established framework while South Sydney have the proven capacity to historically develop top level female Rugby League teams." Crowe’s vocal response to his club’s major blow also emerged as over 5,000 people - and counting - have signed a petition for the NRL to produce an extraordinary backflip and grant Cronulla a women’s league team licence.

Lets Get Behind our womens's team - Rabbitohs CEO

3rd April 2018

Like all of our Members, staff and players, I was extremely disappointed when told our application to join the inaugural NRL Women’s competition had been unsuccessful. The application process had started in December, and our staff at the Rabbitohs had worked hard over the last three months to produce the strongest possible application and presentation to the NRL. We believe our application was very strong in every area of the stated criteria, we have a great player pathway already in place and we wanted to create a women’s program that was truly “The Rabbitoh Way”. On any measure or aspect of the criteria - be it financial capacity, club governance, player development and pathway links or business development - our application was very strong. We have now requested the objective written justification and criteria measurement from the NRL. We have also sought confirmation from the NRL as to the protection we will have that players developed by the Rabbitohs will be made available for any future Rabbitohs NSWRL Premiership and NRL Women’s team. Until we receive a response to these queries, we will not be making any further public comments. However, I believe one of the strongest aspects of our application was the strength and passion of our Members, and how this passion would immediately translate to huge support for our women’s team. It was great to see so many of you, approximately 15,000 according to the turnstile count, at ANZ Stadium for the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership match against Canterbury on Good Friday, and it sent a strong message to the NRL that our Members are absolutely committed to our women’s team. We want to keep sending this message to the NRL, and the best way to do this is by becoming Women’s League Members and continuing to attend matches throughout the 2018 Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership season. The way in which our team bounced back from the adversity of last Tuesday’s announcement to play so well on Friday was remarkable, and it would be wonderful to have as many of you as Women’s League Members and attending matches as this fantastic team strives for glory in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.

Rabbitohs and Sharks player comfort each other after their W-NRL rejections

NRL Womens Ruling - NRL Explaination

10th May 2018

The South Sydney Rabbitohs remain 'extremely disappointed' with the NRL's explanation for excluding our Club from the inaugural NRL women's tournament - and are calling on Members and supporters to continue to get behind our undefeated women's team. Rabbitohs Chairman Nick Pappas and CEO Blake Solly joined representatives from the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and the NRL, including CEO Todd Greenberg and ARLC Chairman Peter Beattie, at a meeting on Tuesday to gain a greater understanding as to why both Clubs were not granted licenses for the first season of the NRL women's tournament.

While the Rabbitohs remain extremely disappointed with the NRL's explanation as to why the Club was not included in the inaugural NRL women's tournament, the Club remains totally committed to the women's game and helping develop players who can represent their state and country while playing for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. "We were told there were two reasons for our exclusion from the tournament," said Mr Solly. "First was our reluctance to recruit new players for this NRL tournament at the expense of our outstanding and undefeated Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership team. "We were very clear in our application that our priority was to remain loyal to those players that had committed to our Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership team, had trained with us since January, and performed brilliantly this season.

"Our team features a number of Jillaroos and representative players at state level and from other nations, and we wanted to give these players the opportunity to form our squad for the inaugural NRL tournament." said Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly. "The second reason was our desire, in partnership with Souths Juniors, to focus on growing the number of girls and women playing rugby league in our district. Again we were clear that the best way to create a sustainable pathway was to show that girls and women who play rugby league in the Souths Juniors competition could develop through the Tarsha Gale and Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership, to the NRL competition and then hopefully represent their state and country. "However other clubs promised to develop, recruit and relocate players from outside their current location and district. It was comforting to hear that the NRL intends to hold those clubs accountable for these promises as part of their review of the inaugural tournament."

The NRL also said it will not be reviewing its decision for the 2018 tournament, despite both the Rabbitohs and Sharks being leaders in the women's game.

Mr Solly said: "It was extremely disappointing to hear the reasoning behind our exclusion, as it seems to us the NRL placed little value or importance on creating sustainable pathways for female players to develop into elite and representative-level players over an extended period of time. Our pathway for boys and girls from the age of six right through to open age is one of the best, most-developed and well-established in the game; and we will concentrate on continuing to work with Souths Juniors on this pathway. We have not been given any assurances as to when our Club will be offered a license in the future, so we will maintain our commitment, through our partnership with Souths Juniors and the NSWRL competitions, to the women's game. However, we hope these players can represent South Sydney at the NRL level in the not-too-distant future. While not included in the original tender documentation, one of the main criteria appears to have been the willingness of a club to relocate players for the four weeks of the tournament. We ranked last out of the six teams in that criteria, as we did not want to recruit a lot of new players and wanted the bulk of the squad to come from our current and undefeated Harvey Norman NSW Premiership team. Our Members and supporters know too well the frustration and disappointment that follows the NRL's application of 'criteria' to determine entry into a competition. However, just as we have always done, we will continue to fight for what is right. So we're now calling on you, the Rabbitohs community, to support the Club and send a message to the NRL that this exclusion is a mistake. The best possible way to do this is by becoming a Women's League Member and continuing to attend matches throughout the 2018 Harvey Norman Premiership season." "Our Women's team played in front of over 15,000 people on Good Friday against the Bulldogs and when they run out on Mother's Day at ANZ Stadium, we want as many of you as possible there to show you support our team and the fight for future entry into the NRL's tournament."