The Women’s Rugby League State of Origin, now viewed as one of the code’s showcase events, is coming to Canberra in June.
The ACT Government successfully bid to host the standalone game, which will be held on Friday night, 24 June, correlating with the men’s second origin match taking place in Perth on Sunday, 26 June.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said Canberra Stadium’s selection highlighted the growth of the event, with regions outside the home states of NSW and Queensland seeking to host the match.
“When Women’s State of Origin was launched at North Sydney Oval in 2018, we all knew it would build to something special and Canberra becoming the first neutral venue to host the event is another step in the evolution and growth of the women’s game,” he said.
The match is a major boost for women’s rugby league in Canberra and will provide a significant platform for the Raiders’ plans to field a side in the NRLW.
At the announcement, Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner said the Raiders were working hard on their bid to secure a spot in the NRLW in 2023.
“High profile women’s matches in Canberra will go a long way to showing our commitment and passion for the women’s game,” he said.
This year the NRLW is playing back-to-back seasons after 2021 games were wiped out because of COVID.
The postponed 2021 season is currently taking place, with the 2022 season occurring later this year. The 2023 season will start towards the back end of next year giving prospective teams, such as the Raiders, plenty of time to establish.
The ACT Government has lifted funding for the Raiders from $2.3 million a year to $2.6 million with a percentage going to the women’s program.
The deal between the government and the Raiders is for five years and is worth $13 million dollars to play games at Canberra Stadium.
Next up for the ACT Government is an agreement with the Brumbies to play at Canberra Stadium, followed by a deal with GWS to play games at Manuka.
The push to establish an NRLW team in Canberra enhances the ACT’s reputation as a hub for women’s sport.
Canberra has teams in the WNBL, the A-League Women’s and the Women’s National Cricket League, while there are no ACT men’s teams in national leagues in basketball, soccer and cricket.
The establishment of women’s rugby league is expected to increase the competition for players in league and rugby union.
Minister for Sport and Recreation, Yvette Berry noted the significance of a Canberra-based women’s league team to the community more broadly.
“Canberra has a deep commitment to women’s sport, and I’m sure there will be a lot of support for an NRLW team in Canberra,” she said.
“Not only will it provide inspiration to our community, but it will give local players the option to stay in Canberra and continue their sporting career here.”
Tickets to the Women’s Rugby League State of Origin will be on sale from 16 March.