Women’s Sport: Australian women’s rugby league in crisis as multiple clubs drop out of new season

Two of the four women’s NRL sides have announced they will not compete in this season’s competition due to the coronavirus.

The season is due to start in September, but could yet face postponement or cancellation given the current pandemic. Both the New Zealand Warriors and the Sydney Roosters have both announced that they will not compete during this time period, citing cost-cutting measures as their primary reason.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that NRLW teams could face tournament costs of up to $500,000 per season and with little revenue to cover these overheads, it is no surprise that teams are taking this decision, especially given the uncertain times the world finds itself in.

Unlike the AFL, which subsidises clubs up to $250,000 per season, the NRL offers nothing to cover club losses and teams are forced to fend for themselves. The absence of renowned teams like the Roosters and Warriors is unquestionably a back-step for women’s rugby league, which has built significant momentum in recent years. 

Last year’s State of Origin match was attended by a record crowd last season, but this year it is not yet known whether the infamous grudge match will even take place. The match is scheduled to take place at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on Friday 19th June.

Whilst Rugby League is not the only sport to be facing problems because of COVID-19, given its lack of funding compared to some other women’s sports, it is questionable how long the game can continue to go on if things carry on like this.

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