Australian Womens Rugby League

Rugby in South America
Image by LucieGilbert from Pixabay

The Australian Womens Rugby League was formed in 1993 by Ian Davies, who coached the local North Sydney womens team. Several regions played organised competitions throughout the East Coast of Australia

Hunter Region
Western Australia
River Valley

Having invited members to attend, an interim AWRL committee was formed. This committee was responsible for the organisation of interstate competition and international test matches and would also oversee the various competitions being staged all over Australia. With little financial assistance though, the AWRL would rely on its membership contributions to see that women were represented in this male dominated sport.

After several attempts to affiliate with the Australian Rugby League in 1995, 96 & 97, the AWRL finally took a positive step with affiliation to the governing body in 1998. Then President Laurel Savage and Secretary Veronica White convinced the league to take on the womens game and see it as a positive step for the sport in general. The future ahead though was a busy one with the AWRL restructuring its entire league, establishing the State and Territory WRL Bodies in Queensland, New South Wales and Canberra.

Since 1995 the AWRL has staged international fixtures against other women rugby league countries.

1995 Australia vs New Zealand 2 Test Series
1996 Australia vs Great Britain 3 Test Series
1997 Australia vs New Zealand 2 Test Series
1998 Australia vs Fiji 2 Test Series
1999 Australia vs New Zealand 3 test series
2000 1st Womens RL World Cup staged in Great Britain
2001 Australia vs New Zealand test match
2002 Australia vs Great Britain 3 test series
2003 Australia vs New Zealand Maoris
2nd Womens RL World Cup staged in New Zealand
2004 Australia vs New Zealand 2 test series

2005 Australian u21’s vs Auckland u21’s in Auckland

An unofficial tour was made in 1993 with an Australian womens representative team touring Fiji. Only one player from this side still actively competes in the womens game today. Jeanette Luker has been playing the sport since 1991 and plays for Brothers Ipswich WRLFC in Ipswich, Queensland.

Since 1998 the AWRL has staged several NSW vs QLD State of Origin Clashes with several matches played at NRL venues including the Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders.

Schoolgirls Rugby League is now being developed by the AWRL with the assistance of the ARL Foundation. Queensland WRL is working well in ensuring their player base is strengthened over the coming years with the AWRL formulating a 3 Year Development plan for all of its affiliated members.

Though finding new competitors each year with women moving into AFL, Soccer and Rugby Union, Rugby League continues to find female newcomers to the game each year and as long as there is a female cheering in the grandstands there will always be one wanting to play the game.