Find yourself sitting on the couch next to someone watching Rugby League – and not entirely sure what’s happening on the field? Fox League’s League Life host Lara Pitt (@lara_pitt) gives the NRL 101...
Who’s in the NRL comp?
The National Rugby League (NRL) competition consists of 16 male teams: 15 in Australia and one based in Auckland, New Zealand. Eight of the teams are in Sydney, making it a huge mixing pot of fans in one city.
What's going on on the field?
A game is 80 minutes, broken into two halves of 40 minutes.
Each team fields a side of 13 players, with four more on the bench. A team can only make eight interchanges during the whole match.
The aim is to score tries: a player scores a try by grounding the ball (the ball must be touching the player when coming into contact with the ground) on or behind the opposition's goal line. Tries are worth four points and a team then has a kick at goal (a conversion) to add another two points.
A team only has six tackles to produce a scoring play. If they don’t, the ball is handed over to the opposing team. When a player is tackled, they must ‘play the ball’ through their legs to one of their teammates.
The winning team picks up two competition points. The losing team picks up none. If it’s a draw, each team is awarded one point.
What about the women’s game?
Our Australian women's national Rugby League team is called the Jillaroos – they won the Anzac Test in May 2017, against the Kiwi Ferns, a comp that the NZ team dominated last year. And there’s something really exciting coming up for them soon: the 2017 Rugby League World Cup (#RLWC), from Nov 16 to Dec 2, 2017. For the first time, the women’s Cup will be held in conjunction with the men's tournament, including a double-header final. You can watch the Jillaroos matches on Fox Sports [and Channel 7]. You can also attend games live in Sydney – and the final in Brisbane.
There’s still plenty of work to do to establish a fully-fledged elite Rugby League competition for women, which should run in line with the men. We recently had NRL CEO Todd Greenberg on League Life on Fox League, and he flagged this as one of the game’s top priorities in the next two to three years.
When it comes to young girls, finally there’s a pathway for women to play Rugby League from the age of six until they reach the elite level. Most of the work is being done in NSW and Queensland, the states where League’s most popular. In a nutshell – girls play alongside boys from 6-12 years old. From 14 upwards, there are competitions which are run throughout both states.
Should I go watch a live game?
Yes, it’s fun! Nowadays, the upscale grounds like ANZ Stadium and Suncorp host our games biggest occasions – like the men’s Grand Finals and the State of Origin. But there’s still nothing better than attending matches at suburban grounds like Leichhardt Oval, Belmore Sports Ground, Brookvale Oval and Jubliee Oval. Families can sit on the hill, have a pie and a beer, cheer on their team, the kids can run around, kick a ball. My favourite part: the banter between fans or directed at the refs. At Rugby League games it’s second to none!