As a growing format which is completely unique in Sydney recreational sport, Friday Night 9s is an inviting option for players of all backgrounds – including those from other codes.
The NSWRL’s recreational Rugby League programs have already proved a hit with participants across the Greater Sydney region, with players of all ages taking part. Friday Night 9s is a concept aimed at open-age players looking for an easy, social environment to end the working week; it has been seen as a perfect opportunity for existing teams to keep fit over the off-season, groups of friends to socialise and new players to get a taste of Rugby League without any registration costs.
Few teams encapsulate the attraction of the new concept better than representatives from the Blacktown Scorpions, a Sydney Junior Rugby Union club which has made the switch to Rugby League for the Friday Night 9s. At last week’s launch of the women’s-only program in Penrith – held at Hickey’s Lane Reserve weekly until 24 November – Scorpions player Shontay Connolly explains why her team became involved.
“We’re basically a team of union players,” Connolly tells NSWRL.com.au. “I think it’s just a get together and probably to give league a go – none of us have played before so it’s probably a chance to get an insight as to what it’s like playing league.
“None of us had ever given it a thought to play, but it was on the bucket list.”
It’s a big move for Connolly, who has played the 15-player code for more than a decade and been a part of representative outfit in New Zealand. While Connolly and her team were unsure whether the move to Rugby League would be permanent, it gave them an opportunity to try the game for the first time.
“I think it will be completely different,” Connolly says. “I think coming from union to league it will be a completely different game altogether, but I guess the tackling and that sort of thing are the same.”
The program continues this Friday from 6pm, with participants encouraged to simply turn up and play. Four other Friday Night 9s programs will also take place across Sydney, with more information found here.