Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Rugby League in Victoria is rarely in the spotlight but recently the state’s grassroots system has been breaking records.
NRL Victoria’s adult competition, the Storm Premiership, kicked off for 2023 last weekend with a Magic Round style day with all 16 clubs playing at Clearwood Drive Reserve in Truganina.
The Storm Junior League will commence on Saturday the 29th of April with the competition holding its 2023 season launch at AAMI Park on Wednesday with Melbourne Storm player and Victorian junior Dean Ieremia attending the event.
As the Victorian grassroots competitions are beginning for 2023 NRL Victoria took the time to announce that a record number of players and clubs would be participating in the Storm Premiership and Junior League this season.
In a recent statement released on NRL Victoria’s official website General Manager Brent Silva spoke about this achievement.
“It’s really pleasing and encouraging to see more and more people are getting out to their local club and signing on as a rugby league player,” said Silva.
“This year, we will have more than 250 teams in our metropolitan competitions, playing in the Storm Premiership and Storm Junior League.
“We are growing statewide with 30 clubs across Victoria, including a new club in the Geelong Sharks who have junior and senior teams in our metro competitions this year.
“We’re on track for record participation numbers, beating our previous best season in 2019 when we had more than 4400 registered rugby league players.”
One thing that NRL Victoria prides itself on is player welfare and has introduced varying levels of restrictions for tackling based on age groups.
In under 6s and 7s tackling is banned with a tag version of Rugby League being played before kids progress to a modified tackle version of the game and eventually full-contact.
Another area of excitement for NRL Victoria is the introduction of two new women’s clubs the Casey Warriors and Sunshine Cowboys who have joined the Women’s First Grade league which sees the number of teams in the competition expand to five.
With the NRL looking to expand to 20 clubs over the next decade if Victoria can keep breaking records at the grassroots level then there could be an outside chance of a second Victorian-based club joining the NRL down the line.
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