ARLC Announce NRLW 10 team Expansion

15th March 2022

The Australian Rugby League Commission has approved the expansion of the NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership, Ampol Women’s State of Origin and the introduction of a salary cap system which will increase average salaries by 28%. To ensure new teams have time to prepare and allow further talent development, the 2022 NRLW season will remain at six teams before expanding to eight teams in 2023 and 10 teams in 2024. The Commission will determine new licences by July this year.

For the 2022 season, NRLW teams will move to a salary cap system with the salary cap set at $350,000 per team. The new system will increase average salaries by 28% and clubs will also be given the ability to contract up to two marquee players as full-time employees with additional salary cap dispensation. Private Health insurance will also be covered for all contracted NRLW players.

In 2022 Representative payments will increase substantially. State of Origin match payments will increase from $4000 to $6000 while All Stars payments will increase from $1,600 to $3000. From 2023, the Ampol Women’s State of Origin will expand to a 2-game stand alone series, with both games aired live on free-to-air television.

The Commission has also approved substantial increases in investment of junior female participation and pathways programs, including national age group championships as well as coaching and referee academies.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the Commission is committed to a sustainable growth strategy of the women’s game from grassroots participation to the elite level. "Today is an exciting day for the women’s game. We’re expanding to eight teams in 2023 and 10 teams in 2024. We’re also introducing a salary cap for next season and creating the opportunity for more players to access full time employment through their club," he said. "The expansion of the NRLW competition and the introduction of the salary cap will ensure players earn substantially more income from our game. We’re experiencing significant growth in television audiences and that’s down to the players and the Commission will continue to invest and support that success. Importantly the announcements today are about ensuring a sustainable NRLW competition. We’ve always been very clear that we would ensure our playing talent is deep enough and our clubs are prepared before expanding. The lead-in time ahead of the next expansion phase will ensure our clubs have the right infrastructure in place and there is even more depth to our playing talent." Mr Abdo said all existing NRL Clubs would have the ability to submit applications to join the 2023 or 2024 seasons. The NRL will work with interested clubs over the coming months with the Commission to make final assessments and approve licence applications in July.

The Commission will focus on investment in female pathways to ensure the playing talent pool continues to grow. "Today is not just about the elite game, it’s also about building stronger participation and pathways. The Commission is focussed on building the women’s game from the bottom up. Not just encouraging more participation as players but also more female coaches and female referees. Right across the game we will continue to work to create pathways for women regardless of whether they want to play, coach, referee or be an administrator." I want to thank our players. They were incredibly patient while we ensured we could launch a 2021 season which gave everyone the opportunity to play and we’ve had really constructive conversations with the RLPA about the next steps in our growth strategy. I also want to acknowledge our partners. Particularly Telstra along with Nine and Fox Sports who are incredibly committed to growing, investing and promoting the women’s game."

Rabbitohs Welcome NRLW Expansion

15th March 2022

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have welcomed today’s announcement by the NRL regarding the expansion of the NRLW competition in 2023 and 2024, with the Club confirming it will be bidding for a licence into this competition as soon as possible. The Rabbitohs also welcome the commitment for more funding and resources towards female player, coaching and referee development for the long term. The Rabbitohs made an initial bid to be a Foundation Club in the NRLW competition in 2018 but missed selection when the competition was a four-team format. The NRL announced today that the competition would be expanding to eight teams in 2023 and ten teams in 2024, opening the door for the Rabbitohs to once again bid for a team in the competition, complementing the open age women’s team the Club runs in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s competition, the under 19s Tarsha Gale Cup side, the under 17s Lisa Fiaola Cup team as well as numerous junior teams in the Souths Juniors competition.

Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly confirmed today that the Rabbitohs will be submitting an application for admission to the NRLW competition. "It is clear from our discussions at all levels of the Club and with all stakeholders that we want a team in the NRLW competition sooner rather than later," Mr Solly said. "From our Members to our investors, our directors and corporate partners, they have all asked why we haven’t been granted a licence before now and are very keen to see the red and green playing in the elite women’s Rugby League competition. We would love to be playing in the 2023 competition and will be making a bid for inclusion in 2023, if not 2024, as soon as we can. It was the first question asked at our AGM a couple of weeks ago and the investors in the Club are keen to see us represented on the big stage for women’s Rugby League. We want all girls and boys who grow up in the South Sydney district to have the opportunity to be a Rabbitoh on the big stage, to wear the red and green at the highest level. Our boys have had that opportunity since 1908 and now it’s time for girls in our region to have that same opportunity. We have a very inclusive Club and have both men, women, boys and girls training within our Black Rabbits Elite Player Development Program, working with the best coaches at our Club on a regular basis, including players like Ellie Johnston, Shirley Mailangi and Rachael Pearson who are all playing week-in and week-out NRLW at the moment, but unfortunately they can’t do that in the red and green of the Rabbitohs. Our Community and High Performance Centre at Heffron Park in Maroubra will also have dedicated women’s dressing rooms for an NRLW team and we can’t wait for the completion of that facility in November this year. We were disappointed to miss out in 2018 but we’ve continued to build our pathways from under 6s through to the NSW Women’s competition level. The next step is to enter the NRLW and we will put a very compelling case to the NRL and the ARL Commission as to why the Rabbitohs should feature in the NRLW from 2023 onwards."

NRLW 2023 4 team (instead of 2) Expansion

15th June 2022

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has approved the addition of four new teams to an expanded NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership competition from 2023. The Commission has confirmed that Canberra Raiders, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers would be admitted to the Premiership in 2023. The additional teams will ensure that the NRLW competition is represented from Townsville in far-north Queensland to Canberra, with three Clubs in Queensland, six in NSW and one in the ACT.

Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Mr Peter V’landys AM said the growth of the women’s game was a priority for the Commission, from grassroots to elite, and that all four teams would add significantly to the new competition in 2023. "We have a blueprint for investing in the women’s game at all levels. We have seen from with the quality of the 2021 NRLW Premiership and the tremendous growth in female participation that we have capacity for sustainable growth," Mr V’landys said. "The Commission have again demonstrated that the women’s game is a strategic priority. The quality of the Club submissions was excellent. The Commission had always left the door open to expand to a 10-team competition based on the quality of the applicants, and we have seen that come through both in the success of the 2021 Premiership and the quality and applications made by Clubs."

National Rugby League CEO Andrew Abdo said the expansion of the NRLW Premiership to a 10-team competition was a watershed moment for the sport. "Today is another exciting milestone in the growth of Women’s Premiership," Mr Abdo said. "The Sharks and the Tigers have strong teams in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, and the Raiders and the Cowboys already have strong participation bases. We will continue to work with all NRL Clubs on the plans for further expansion beyond 2023 and the right time for each Club to potentially enter the NRLW Premiership."

Rabbitohs Statement regards NRLW Expansion

15th June 2022

The South Sydney Rabbitohs congratulate the four clubs who were awarded an NRLW licence for the 2023 season today, and the club looks forward to working with the NRL executive to ensure its entry for the 2024 NRLW season as prefaced by NRL CEO Andrew Abdo in today’s press conference. The Rabbitohs entered a bid for the 2024 season, including an all-female coaching staff, opportunities for females to hold key roles throughout the football department and in administrative roles around the NRLW team, and a strategic partnership with the Auckland Rugby League to support the New Zealand Warriors in providing pathways for New Zealand-based female players into the NRLW. The Rabbitohs are building a brand new, state-of-the-art community and high-performance centre at Heffron Park in Maroubra with specific female changerooms and facilities for an NRLW team being part of this build. The Rabbitohs have invested heavily in their Harvey Norman NSW Women’s team, Tarsha Gale Cup team, Lisa Fiaola Cup team, and junior competitions right down to under sixes, over the past decade, making it one of the strongest pathways for female players in Rugby League, coupled with the relationship with the Auckland Rugby League and the New Zealand Warriors for the NRLW competition for the foreseeable future. All of the above points cover the criteria outlined by the NRL in its press conference today, including geographic spread, participation in the female pathways, and facilities and investment in female pathways both on field (players) and off the field (coaches and administration).

Mr Abdo said in his press conference: "We’re looking for further expansion in 2024 and onwards. Those clubs that submitted proposals to be ready from 2024, the next step for us is to engage with them and work with them so that we can make that announcement as soon as possible… I’m pretty confident that we will be announcing a further expanded competition in 2024." The Rabbitohs look forward to meeting with Mr Abdo and NRL Executive General Manager – Performance and Pathways, Tain Drinkwater, in the immediate future to move forward with this process towards entry for the 2024 NRLW competition, and giving certainty to the thousands of young female players, from under 6s through to the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, in South Sydney, all over Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the Pacific, who want to represent the Rabbitohs at the elite level of the game in 2024 and beyond.

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