Region welcomes new competition

Alicia Perera and Carly LadenPilbara News
The Wickham Wasps celebrate winning the 2016 Pilbara Rugby League grand final.
Camera IconThe Wickham Wasps celebrate winning the 2016 Pilbara Rugby League grand final. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

A senior rugby league competition has been confirmed to return to the North West this year after several years without a formal competition in the region.

NRLWA will this year set up the North West Cup involving clubs from Broome, South Hedland, Karratha, Wickham and Tom Price.

Teams will battle it out with each team playing each other once during the season.

The North West Cup will be preceded by the NRL State of Mind 9’s, which will be taking place in South Hedland on May 9.

Although the inaugural season will only have five teams making up the league, other communities in the Pilbara and Kimberley have already shown interest in competing in 2021.

NRLWA operations manager Tony Crowe said the new league was the product of a successful growth year for rugby league in the region.

“The aim will be, in 2020, to have a structured senior competition, both men’s and women’s, where these communities are playing against each other on a regular basis,” he said.

“Whereas this year has been about reintroducing (rugby league) back into the region and clubs playing one-off types of events, we want to have a more structured competition for next year.”

There has been no formal senior rugby league competition in the North West in recent years after the Pilbara Rugby League folded in 2017 and Broome’s several attempts to introduce a solid presence in rugby league over the years.

But the new league’s confirmation comes after Tom Price and Paraburdoo established rugby league clubs in July this year, which Crowe said had sparked rising interest around the region.

“Now that towns such as Karratha, Wickham, Broome and even Hedland have seen Tom Price and Paraburdoo back on the radar and being so proactive, it’s really reinvigorated them, so it’s generated a lot of interest back into those locations,” he said.

He said he believed the competition would be the most wide-ranging ever to be run in the North West, with no previous competition having encompassed clubs in both the Pilbara and Kimberley.

NRLWA development officer and North West Cup competition organiser Laurie Taylor said volunteers have been working tirelessly to prepare for the new competition.

“The North West Cup is a major step forward for Rugby League in the North West,” he said.

“A North West committee has also been formed with each community represented.

“2020 is shaping up as a big year for Rugby League in the North West.”

The competition is expected to start on May 23, 2020.

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