ARLC Announce NRLW 2 team Expansion in 2025

28th March 2024

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has approved the continued expansion of the NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership from 2025. The Commission has confirmed that the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the New Zealand Warriors will be part of an expanded 12-team 2025 Premiership.

The Warriors had previously been part of the competition up until 2020, however were forced to withdraw through COVID. The addition of the Bulldogs will further expand the footprint of the women’s game while allowing more elite pathways for female players in the thriving Western Sydney market. The NRL and Clubs have worked closely together during the past months to develop an expansion plan that will allow the women’s game to continue to grow and thrive not only in Australia but also throughout the Pacific.

Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Mr Peter V’landys AM said it was important to provide certainty for the growth of the women’s game, and for growth at all levels from grassroots through to the elite. "The women’s game has gone to another level with the skill level and quality of the games being extraordinary. This is evidenced by the popularity of the NRLW competition," Mr V’landys said. "Last year over a million viewers tuned in to watch the NRLW Grand Final, and we are looking forward to an even bigger and better competition in 2025."

National Rugby League CEO Andrew Abdo said the expansion of the NRLW Premiership to a 12-team competition was another important milestone in the code’s strategic growth plan. He said the awarding of these licenses was strongly focussed on geography and timing, including participation, pathways and infrastructure. "This is an exciting moment for the Telstra Women’s Premiership, as we continue to build on the momentum built from previous seasons," Mr Abdo said. The return of the Warriors is an important strategic boost for the women’s game in New Zealand, while the Bulldogs are adding the final step to their program after years of strong investment in the women’s game. We are working closely with each and every club to build a comprehensive strategic plan for the NRLW and the women’s game. We are looking forward to working with clubs on each of the individual programs over the next couple of years."

Rabbitohs Statement regards NRLW Expansion

28th March 2024

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have said the Club remains committed to its female Rugby League football program whilst congratulating the Bulldogs and Warriors on today’s announcement by the NRL regarding expansion of the NRLW competition for the 2025 competition, based on geographic factors. The Rabbitohs remain committed to building a successful pathway for female players, coaches and administrators, for pathways below NRLW. The Rabbitohs currently field teams in the open-age NSW Premiership, the under 19s Tarsha Gale Cup, the under 17s Lisa Fiaola Cup, development squads, and work closely with Souths Juniors on junior football programs for female participants. Souths Cares, the charitable and community arm of the Club also runs development programs for young female players with members of the open-age women’s squad. The Rabbitohs commend the NRL for their commitment to further funding for the women’s game as they work towards this arm of the sport being self-sustainable for the governing body and the clubs who participate in the competition.

Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly re-confirmed the Rabbitohs’ commitment to fielding a team in the NRLW competition in the future. "We completely understand the NRL’s decision to expand with the Warriors and Bulldogs based on geographic terms in 2025, and we look forward to our opportunity to field a team when the time is right for the NRL’s expansion and our Club’s participation plans. Our application has always been based on an NRLW squad of players that have primarily come through our pathways programs. Nothing changes with this announcement, and we will use this additional time before entry to the NRLW to continue improving these programs. Our Members, investors, partners and boards all remain committed to the women’s game, and we will be ready to roll when the NRL permits a Rabbitohs team to enter the competition, hopefully sooner rather than later."

Ref - NRL [Viewed 5 Apr 2024] / SSFC [Viewed 5 Apr 2024] / FN-1

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