The NSWRL is gearing up for a bumper weekend of action with the Junior Rugby League season scheduled to start and the Western Region Peter McDonald Premiership to officially kick off; while the Regional Representatives Grand Finals will determine the premiers for four competitions.
The Mudgee Dragons and Dubbo Macquarie Raiders will have the honour of kicking off the Peter McDonald Premiership on Saturday 2 April with the match to be played as a curtain-raiser for the NRL game between Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and Canberra Raiders at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee.
The Peter McDonald Premiership unites clubs from Group 10 and Group 11 in western NSW and includes a conference system and crossover games; and a top eight finals system involving teams from each conference.
Despite challenges with the relentless rain in recent weeks, many Junior Leagues will progress with pre-season fixtures and gala days this weekend, with figures tracking well against last year’s participation numbers. The 2021 season included a five per cent increase across all competitions, the highest growth for male participants in six years and female participants breaking the 20,000 mark for the first time in NSWRL history.
The Regional Representatives Grand Finals will be held at St Marys Leagues Stadium on Sunday 3 April and will determine the premiers for the SLE Andrew Johns Cup (Under 16s), SLE Laurie Daley Cup (Under 18s), and Men’s and Women’s Country Championships.
“What a great weekend for Rugby League,” NSWRL Head of Football Robert Lowrie said.
“We have the Regional Representatives Grand Finals which showcases some of the rising stars from regional NSW, as well as provide an opportunity for the men’s and women’s Open Age teams to proudly represent their areas.
“We have a milestone and watershed day for western NSW with the launch of the Peter McDonald Premiership to be played on the big stage before an NRL game. I’m confident there will be a strong crowd there, with the Mudgee Dragons and Dubbo Macquarie Raiders to get their fair share of support too.
“The Junior Rugby League numbers are promising at the moment and community football will always have an important role to play in binging people back together, particularly after the challenges the state has faced over the past few years.”
NSW Community Rugby League Manager Peter Clarke said registrations for the 2022 Junior Rugby League season were heading in the right direction compared to the corresponding stage last season with a four per cent increase across the board, a three per cent increase for the male participants and an eight per cent increase for female participants.
“The participation numbers are positive heading into the Easter break with many trials and pre-season fixtures getting underway this weekend,” Clarke said.
“Excitement and anticipation is aplenty leading into the 2022 season, especially after a difficult season last year with COVID lockdowns and a challenging start to the year for some regions with the severe weather and flooding.
“There are plenty of opportunities to play Rugby League including traditional (tackle), Monarch Blues Tag, Wheelchair Rugby League, Physical Disability Rugby League and Try League, or you may just want to help out and enjoy being part of your local club.
“We are very fortunate to have a network of fantastic volunteers across the state who help make Rugby League the game for all, and I would encourage everyone to get involved.”
Click here to sign up for the 2022 NSWRL season.