Revamp keeps young players smiling and parents on track
Parents and junior rugby league players from the Pilbara will have a different league experience this season, with the code introducing safer rules to ensure a more fun, friendly and free-flowing game for younger children.
The national changes focus on improving the game for under-six and seven-year-olds, while continuing to develop involvement for all levels.
Children at the younger end of the playing spectrum will find more focused 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 changes to junior models of the game were designed to provide greater inclusiveness and opportunity for participants.
“This has been a process of many years of liaising with grassroots parents, clubs and stakeholders,” he said.
“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 this 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 the field, the NRL will continue its policy of appropriate off-field behaviour among parents, spectators and participants.
NRL WA general manager John Sackson said feedback on the changes had been positive. “It’s great to see these changes, which complements the feedback from our communities, coming into effect and changing the game for these young players for the better,” he said.
Junior registration for the 2017 season is now open.