Bunker Debut for Women's Interstate Challenge
For the first time, the NRL Bunker will be used in a women's Rugby League match when the technology makes its debut for the annual Harvey Norman Interstate Challenge between NSW and Queensland at Wollongong's WIN Stadium on Sunday (23 July).
The decision to use the cutting-edge technology is just another indication of the rise in the professionalism of the women's game, with the announcement earlier this month that elite female Rugby League players will receive paid contracts to represent NSW in the Harvey Norman Interstate Challenge, which also has a sponsor for the first time.
NRL Head of Football Brian Canavan said: "We view this game as one of our elite games, and part of a double-header alongside a Premiership match, so it makes sense to have the appropriate rules and officiating processes in place for such a game.
“It’s another significant step forward for the women’s game.”
NSWRL General Manager - Football Barrie-John Mather said: "Now in its 19th year, it is incredibly pleasing to not only see the standard of the women's Interstate Challenge rise, but to see the game being treated with the same respect and level of professionalism as the elite men.
"Using the bunker and live broadcast (on pay TV) for the Interstate Challenge, professional contracts for the NSW women and a naming rights sponsor for the women's competitions in both NSW and Queensland are major achievements in a relatively short space of time.
"We are really proud at NSWRL of the pathways program we have for women and girls and the environment that has been created to continue the rapid growth in this area of the game.
"To get a win on a home ground on Sunday would be the icing on the cake for NSW."
NSW Women's Interstate Challenge coach Ben Cross backed the decision to use the bunker.
"It’s good to see they’ve got the foresight to use this for the women’s game and give it the credit it deserves so they can get the decisions correct," Cross said.
"This game is now commanding the same respect and technology that the men’s game gets."
NSW are the defending champions after ending a 17-year stranglehold by Queensland to win their first Nellie Doherty Cup in 18 years at the Gold Coast last year.
Sunday's match will be broadcast live on FOX League (11.45am kick-off) ahead of the Round 20 NRL clash between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
FOX League will also replay the match on their website about 3pm on Sunday.