2018 was a year of growth and change for women’s rugby league, from grassroots right up to national level. While the NRLW was possibly the cherry on top of a great year, there were many more highlights.
Here are my top 10 moments for women in rugby league in 2018:
10. Talent ID Day
As part of the new pathways program, this year saw an inaugural Talent ID day to build skills and recruit for NRLW teams. Over 200 female athletes attended the Gold Coast event, many of which were selected for training camps or programs.
9. The Introduction of Pathways
This year the NRL introduced a pathway for women in rugby league, to take them from grassroots to representative levels. Steps included local representative, City vs Country, state, NRLW and national levels. It aims to help players improve and be chosen for high levels. While this was its first year in action, the pathway did see several rookie players participate and stand out in the NRLW.
8. The New Female Dally M Award
With so many changes this year, the Women’s Dally M became more significant than ever. Britney Brealey won the prestigious award this year, after an outstanding NRLW campaign in an undefeated Broncos team. Brealey was well deserving of her award in its first year under new judging and criteria, averaging 61.1 running metres and 31 tackles per game, as well as having three try-assists.
7. Introduction of Women’s Prime Ministers Xlll
Another tradition for women’s rugby league was started, with the Women’s Prime Ministers XIII introduced to be played alongside the men’s. Last year did feature a doubleheader of the male and female teams, but the women’s match was not considered a Prime Ministers XIII match. Still on the high from last years World Cup, the star-studded Jillaroos best the Orchids 40-6, but it was their stars from the NRLW that shone.