Record growth in women's game
Female participation in rugby league has jumped a staggering 26 per cent in a single year as more pathways are created for women to be involved in the game.
The news comes off-the-back of a successful 14th annual NRL Legends Shield with girls competing for the first time on Thursday.
31 girls teams from across NSW participated in the annual Shield, with school teams from the North Coast, Inverell, Hunter, Central Coast, Illawarra and all areas of Sydney.
Close to 400 girls were involved in either seven-a-side (primary school) or nine-a-side (secondary) matches. It was the first time females have taken part in the competition, with the majority of referees also female.
Hoxton Park High School won the senior girls final defeating Bass High School 8-4, while in the primary girls final Belara Public School proved too strong for Blairmound 26-10.
There are now more than 11,600 women and girls playing Rugby League, a jump of 26 per cent on last year, with female participation across all age groups in Sydney, country NSW and Queensland showing strong signs of growth.
It is an area the game will continue to look to foster and grow according to NRL Head of Game Development, Andrew Hill.
"A jump of more than 25 per cent in the number of women and girls playing rugby league shows our expanded playing options are making the game more attractive," Hill said.
"There is now the option to play touch and league tag, as well as tackle, and mothers in particular have responded very positively.
"Rugby league caters for boys and girls of all sizes, ages and abilities."
It is a big growth area for the NRL, and while the numbers are still modest at the moment, a lot of time and resource is being pumped into getting more women to play the game.
The Jillaroos have become a key focus for the game and it is hoped their success and more exposure will filter down to all levels.