Andrew Bryan, NRL.com
We have had a massive response to our guest female columnists talking about their experiences in Rugby League as part of the Harvey Norman Women in League Week.
Tens-of-thousands of people read, 'liked', shared and commented on the articles.
From covering the game in the media, working in clubland, supporting husbands and sons, to strapping on the boots and taking the field themselves, each story contained an overwhelming sentiment of pride and unbridled enthusiasm for this funny old game called Rugby League.
This isn’t a new concept by any means, but it is important to remember and take stock the fantastic work women do in our sport.
While the NRL Women in League advertisement is dedicated mainly to the female volunteers, it is by no means where the great work starts and ends.
Sky News Sports Reporter Sam Squiers summed it up best when she wrote; “This round isn’t just about photo shoots with mums, fancy lunches and players wearing pink uniforms. It’s the recognition that women do play a role in the game and more women can get involved in the game. It’s about celebrating the achievements and growth of women in league while at the same time encouraging those in the game to push even harder to break new barriers.”
ABC Reporter Jen Browning followed that by stating; “From the Mums who car pool, volunteer in the canteen and stand on the sidelines cheering week after week, to the wives and partners of players, right up to administrators and management, women play a significant role in the game and I'm proud to be a part of it.”
A quick look around Rugby League Central is testament to the great work done in the game. Jobs are not determined by gender, but by whom best fills the role. We are evenly split between the genders and are both just as passionate about Rugby League and the team’s we support.
From Commissioner, Mrs Catherine Harris AO PSM, to General Manager of Community, Culture and Diversity Trish Crews, to all the staff in our building, there are amazing things being done each and every day. The Harvey Norman Women in League Round is about celebrating that role and encouraging more people to get involved.
The way the round has been embraced by the clubs, the media and the fans is exceptional. I think it is fair to say the realisation has sunk in that the round is not just about how much pink you can wear, it is about taking a moment to ponder and appreciate how far the game has come.
The amount of money raised for various causes is also very humbling.The hot pink socks, which are part of the McGrath Foundation’s “Pull On Your Socks” campaign for Round 16, have been so popular they sold out in four weeks (with an additional waiting list of 3000), contributing over $100,000 in funds for breast care nurses!
It is awe-inspiring stuff.
It is important to note that the round is not a token gesture by the NRL; it is simply about breaking down stereotypes and raising awareness of the amazing role women play in the game, while also raising funds for some great causes along the way. It is about acknowledging that women are important to the sport of Rugby League – from the grass roots volunteers, to the players, referees, physiotherapists, club staff, administrators and everyone in between.
As our guest columnists have succinctly described in their personal recounts of their experiences in rugby league, there is a lot of love for this game, the greatest game of all.
They are great stories and if you haven't read them, I implore you to follow the links on the right side of this article, they are definitely worth reading!
Thank you to everyone involved and enjoy the Harvey Norman Women in League Round.
You can follow Andrew Bryan on twitter: @Andrewbryan321