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NRLW Announce Expansion With Three New Teams

T
he NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership (NRLW) has announced the competition will expand to six teams in 2021 with the inclusion of the Gold Coast Titans, Newcastle Knights, and Parramatta Eels.

The Australian Rugby League Commission approved the expansion of the league with the new clubs joining the Brisbane Broncos, St George Illawarra Dragons, and Sydney Roosters for the NRLW 2021 season.

NRLW will commence alongside round 23 of the NRL season with each team playing each other once and the top four teams meeting in the finals with the grand final still scheduled to play on the same day as the NRL grand final.

The number of games has also increased from seven to 18 this season and the number of playing weeks will increase from four to seven.

The NRL also stated the objective is to expand the league to eight teams by 2022.

NRL chief executive, Andrew Abdo, said today was a special day for rugby.

“Women’s rugby league is the fastest growing part of our sport and it’s exciting to be in a position to expand the competition after the success of the last three seasons,” Abdo said.

“The NRLW competition has produced some of the best athletes in Australia, it’s captivated a new fan base and today’s expansion will give more players the opportunity to play in an elite competition.

“Now that we have a really solid base, thriving State competitions and investment in expanding the game from the bottom up, I cannot wait to see the NRLW go to a new level across seven weeks and 18 games,” he said.

Newcastle Knights CEO, Philip Gardner, said he was excited to confirm the news.

“This is a very special moment for our club, our city and our region,” Gardner said.

“It’s reminiscent of when the club was founded back in 1988, when a young and willing group of players got their chance to create a piece of history.

“This is the next big step forward.

“Our foundation franchise presents a tremendous opportunity to create long-lasting player pathways.

“We are looking forward to creating opportunities for players to represent their town, their region, their state and their country in the months and years to come,” he said.

Absent from the announcement is NRLW founding team the New Zealand Warriors with the NRLW confirming the team will not participate in the 2021 season due to uncertainty surrounding international borders.

However, the team remains committed to the league with the hopes to return back in 2022.

On the Warriors, Andrew Abdo said: ‘The Warriors were part of the first four clubs to join the NRLW competition and we are grateful for the commitment they made right from the start, particularly during the pandemic last year.”

“It’s been an incredibly challenging period for the club during COVID and I’m confident we will see the Warriors return to the competition in 2022 as part of our expansion plans,” he said.