The NRL has announced a series of changes to junior rugby league for 2017 onwards.
They’re part of a wider review of junior rugby league, with a focus on improving the under six and seven years of age game experience, whilst continuing to develop the overall game involvement for all levels.
Following research and consultation among grassroots communities, games at the younger end will focus on game time, increased opportunities with the ball and a positive learning environment where players are rewarded for effort rather than penalised for mistakes.
NRL head of football, Brian Canavan, said “this has been a process of many years of liaising with grassroots parents, clubs and stakeholders”.
“The overwhelming feedback and direction is that at a young age, it is important for kids to simply enjoy their footy and build on personal, physical and social life skills – and if players continue on with their rugby league, these sentiments and skills continue.
“Parents want to see their kids having fun and enjoying their rugby league in a safe and friendly environment and it is important that those just starting out playing the game have a positive experience, regardless of how long or how far they go.
“The changes introduced from next season will ensure that everyone is given a greater opportunity to have a go, throw the footy around and walk off the field each week having had fun with their friends.”
Along with changes on-field, the NRL will continue its policy of positive and appropriate off-field behaviour among parents, spectators and fellow participants.
“Children and young adults learn from those around them and we are committed to ensuring that those in our game, no matter what level and age, are respectful at all times,” Mr Canavan said.
Junior registration for 2017 seasons is now open nationally, with a dedicated website www.nrl.com/play
The website also includes the various models and rules of the different game varietals for age groups, coaching and training programs and the game’s code of conduct for all participants.
The NRL has also launched a campaign to compliment the announcement.