The NRL will celebrate a decade of the Harvey Norman Women in League Round this weekend (Round 22) at a time when female participation in all forms of League continues to be the fastest growing category in the game.
Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page, who developed the Women in League Round 10 years ago, said the round had continued to grow and shine a light on the vital role women were and are playing in Rugby League, particularly at the grassroots level.
"If I think back to 2007 when we started Harvey Norman Women in League, we have achieved so much, however at the same time we can see now what is possible and how the game must remain focused," Ms Page said.
"We must ensure we support the next generation of women - mothers, administrators and female players coming up through the ranks.
"In recent years, we have seen the expansion into increasing female player participation, improving pathways to elite competition and better support for those women who play the game at the highest level.
"Each of these groups of women must remain the foundation of why Women in League exists and who it seeks to support. Female influence, participation and perspective is required across the code if it is to expand and thrive.
"The Australian sporting landscape is highly competitive - no sport or code can afford to neglect the role women can and do play. This is a vital consideration that must remain a constant, consistent priority."
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg praised Ms Page for her unwavering support of women in Rugby League and the continued dedication to realising equality for females working in and playing all forms of League.
"Katie has been a champion of women's sport not only in Australia, but throughout the world and Rugby League is fortunate to have Katie's commitment and support," Mr Greenberg said.
"I am proud of the thousands of women who are part of all levels of our game – from our commission, through to boards, CEOs, our Indigenous council, ambassadors, volunteers, elite players and our grassroots participants.
"The Harvey Norman Women in League Round is one of many occasions throughout the year where women are at the fore-front of our game and without doubt, help to shape our sport for the better."
This year's Women in League Round will feature support across all matches including:
- Women in League signage on-field and at matches
- 40m line numbers changed to purple, the colour of the round
- Referees wearing Women in League jerseys
- Half-time women’s touch, tag or tackle games
- Broncos, Cowboys, Warriors, Sharks and Storm players will wear Women in League jerseys
Women in League Round commences on Thursday 4 August with the match between the Broncos and Dragons in Wollongong and runs through to Monday night football, which will see the Panthers take on the Roosters in Penrith.
Fans are encouraged to show their support for the round by using the social hashtag #WomenInLeague.
- 180,000+ girls and women playing Rugby League across Australia (in schools and Clubs)
- 302,400+ girls and women participating in Touch Football across Australia at some level (including referees, coaches, administrators, etc.)
- 232,800+ girls and women playing Touch Football across Australia
- 482,000+ girls and women involved in playing the game across Australia (touch, tag or tackle)
- 2,000+ female coaches, sports trainers and referees involved in the game across Australia
- More than 5,200+ registered female volunteers involved in the game across Australia
- More than 90+ female-only Rugby League competitions across Australia
- 68,000+ female members across the 16 NRL Clubs
- Female participation is the fastest growing area of the game
- At a board level, the NRL has one female commissioner (Catherine Harris) and New South Wales Rugby League has one female board member (Deborah Healey). Across the 16 NRL clubs, there are 13 female board members, including two Chairwomen (Rebecca Frizelle, Gold Coast Titans and Marina Go, Wests Tigers)
- There are numerous women working, delivering and supporting across the game at executive level