This week the NRL announced a National Rugby League Women’s Premiership (NRLWP) that will launch later this year. There will be four teams fighting for the inaugural championship: New Zealand Warriors, Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos and the St. George Illawarra Dragons.

The general manager of the Illawarra Division of Rugby League, Chris Bannerman, said that the journey to create a Women’s competition took determination from everyone involved.

, “It was a lot of work that went into it. Our bid document was very comprehensive, and covered everything that’s been done in developing womens rugby league in the area over the past 20 years.”

Chris Bannerman outside Wollongong’s WIN Stadium where the womens Illawarra Dragons will play.

Bannerman will be overseeing the administration of the Dragons team this year, and thinks it opens up opportunities that previously haven’t been there for female league players.

“We’re now seeing quite a number of the junior girls who play league tag transition into the tackle aspect because they have a skills base… and now there’s a progressive pathway for them to go further.” 

“Our bid made sure we covered everything in our history and emphasised because we’ve got girls actively playing in the area… we firmly believe that was the icing on the cake in this pyramid.”


Although, not all the teams who applied for the competition were successful. The Cronulla Sharks and South Sydney Rabbitohs are two of the major sides whose applications were rejected.

Cronulla chief executive officer Barry Russell expressed his frustration, “I am extremely disappointed and dumbfounded by the decision,” Russell said. The club has a history for supporting womens rugby league after launching the Cronulla Sharks Women’s Series team and hosting the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in 2017.

However, Bannerman said, “I know some other clubs are making noises [about not being accepted], but they’ve really jumped in in the last couple of years and claim they own the women’s league.”

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