Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Since the NRL Women’s competition was launched in 2018 the talent pool has grown immensely as the women’s game continues to develop and strengthen.
This saw three new teams gain entry into the NRLW’s delayed 2021 season in the Gold Coast Titans, Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels which allowed for more games and a finals series for the first time in the competition’s history.
In 2023 four more NRL teams will have an adjoined NRLW side taking the league’s total number of participating clubs to ten as today it was confirmed that the Canberra Raiders, Cronulla Sutherland Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers have had their NRLW bids approved.
Australian Rugby League Chairman Peter V’Landys spoke about the milestone today in an official statement.
“We have seen from with the quality of the 2021 NRLW Premiership and the tremendous growth in female participation that we have capacity for sustainable growth,” said Vlandys.
“The Commission have again demonstrated that the women’s game is a strategic priority. The quality of the club submissions was excellent.
#Origin II is coming 😤
— NRL (@NRL) June 16, 2022
“The Commission had always left the door open to expand to a 10-team competition based on the quality of the applicants, and we have seen that come through both in the success of the 2021 Premiership and the quality and applications made by clubs.”
NRL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Abdo also put out a statement where he expanded a little on the reason as to why there four teams, in particular, had their bids approved.
“The Sharks and the Wests Tigers have strong teams in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, and the Raiders and the Cowboys already have strong participation bases,” said Abdo.
“We will continue to work with all NRL Clubs on the plans for further expansion beyond 2023 and the right time for each Club to potentially enter the NRW Premiership.”
Originally, the NRL announced that only two teams would be granted a place in the NRLW in 2023 but the decision to double that number is indicative of the strides that have been made in the women’s game.
All 17 clubs will hopefully be represented in the NRLW sooner rather than later.