Celebrating women in the rugby league community

Welcome, fellow rugby league fans and citizens of the Rugby League Republic, to my first ever blog post. Today, March 8, marks International Women's Day, so I thought we should all take this opportunity to recognize and celebrate the increasingly visible role of women in rugby league. I couldn’t think of a more fitting theme for the first ever blog post here on the Rugby League Republic website.


One of our biggest bugbears here at the Rugby League Republic is that the mainstream rugby league community, at least that which is portrayed in the media, is dominated by ex-players and journalists, most of whom are male and not at all representative of the diverse types of people who enjoy The Greatest Game of All. This is why we've started this podcast, website, and, dare I say it, movement, to give a voice to those who are not represented in the mainstream rugby league community (and to have a bit of fun along the way).


And while the NRL has done well to promote events such as Mother's Day games (take your mum to the footy for free on Mother's Day etc), these initiatives are only ever occasional, and are drowned out by the constant barrage of <insert wacky nickname here> on the various footy shows on television that spend less time talking about the game and more time finding ways to humiliate some of the easy targets in the community, including the less-educated and poor. All in the name of 'entertainment' (and, hey, they are rewarded for this with Logies so what would I know, right?).


But all is not lost, as the tide is definitely turning. In the last few months and years we have seen some long awaited fundamental changes to the role of women in rugby league. We have seen the first of hopefully a long line of females involved in officiating at the highest level, including NRL touch judges (Belinda Sleeman and Kasey Badger) and female NRL referees (Belinda Sleeman, debuting in 2014). We have also see a much more concerted effort by the mainstream media to be more inclusive by increasing the contribution of female TV presenters such as Erin Molan or Yvonne Sampson, but also, crucially, to focus on some of the great female players of rugby league, such as Jillaroos player Ruan Sims, who featured in official NRL season launch activities this year. And that's not even to mention the NRL’s increased recognition and focus this year on fans and volunteers, who are made up of so many hard working mothers, wives and girlfriends of (mostly) male players.


We at the Rugby League Republic will do our part by breaking down barriers wherever we can, including promoting women’s rugby league and breaking down the male-dominated stranglehold on discussion and analysis in the world of rugby league.


If you can think of any other ways in which the NRL and the rugby league community in general can recognise the contribution of women on this International Women’s Day, please let us know by dropping us an email at rlrepublic@gmail.com and we will discuss it in our podcast.


Until next time,

Dr T.