Country Championships to kick-off this weekend
The 2017 Country Championships kick-off this weekend, with both the under-23 Men’s Rugby League and Ladies League Tag competitions featured in the annual tournament to decide the best regional representative teams in NSW.
The four-week competition will see the best male and female Rugby League and Ladies League Tag players represent their respective regions, with matches taking place in Wauchope, Cowra, Denman, West Wyalong and Shellharbour; with additional venues to be decided by participating teams.
This year’s Country Championships will feature under-23 Men’s Rugby League and Ladies League Tag teams representing ten regional representative sides – Monaro, Riverina, North Coast, Central Coast, Newcastle Rebels, Western Rams, Greater Northern Tigers, South West Razorbacks, Illawarra/South Coast Warriors and Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
The under-23 Men’s competition replaces the former Senior Country Championships, with Ladies League Tag featuring in the Country Championships for the second year.
Country Rugby League CEO Terry Quinn believes the new under-23’s format provides a great opportunity for young players to progress through the Rugby League pathways.
“Whilst the decision to restructure the Senior Men’s Country Championships was difficult, we believe the new format will provide a greater opportunity for regional players to progress through the Rugby League pathways into the Intrust Super Premiership and NRL,” Quinn said.
“The 19-23-year-old age bracket is our peak participation range for senior football and traditionally players outside of this age range have a lesser chance of progressing through the pathways unless they’re already playing, or have played, in higher levels of competition.
“By restructuring the format to under-23’s we are giving more players in our peak participation range the opportunity to advance their Rugby League careers.”
Quinn admits he is excited to see Ladies League Tag featured in the Country Championships once again.
“The Ladies League Tag Country Championships were a wonderful success last year and provided a great opportunity for female players to display their footballing talents.
“Simone Smith of the East Coast Dolphins was named Group 3 Representative Player of the Year in 2016 for her efforts throughout the Championships, and she is now the current Jillaroos half-back playing for Australia - so the Championships do provide a great platform for female players to push their case for higher honours.
Country Championships Round One – Saturday, 13th May 2017
U23 -2:30pm Newcastle Rebels vs NRRRL (Lank Bain Oval, Wauchope)
LLT – 1:20pm Newcastle Rebels vs NRRRL (Lank Bain Oval, Wauchope)
U23 – 12:00pm Western Rams vs Monaro (Canberra/Group 16) (Sid Kallas Oval, Cowra)
LLT – 11:00am Western Rams vs Monaro (Canberra/Group 16) (Sid Kallas Oval, Cowra)