Demonstrate support for a West Australian NRL team in the established national competition

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Petition to support a West Australian Rugby League franchise team in the established NRL competition

BACKGROUND

Rugby League was established in Western Australia in 1948 with teams in Fremantle and Perth and later in the Western and Eastern suburbs.

Over the years a number of Clubs have fielded teams in a First Grade competition in Western Australia and many with substantial junior teams. There is also significant competition throughout the Pilbara.

As WA does not have a team in the National Rugby League competition which is firmly established in NSW and Queensland it leaves quality WA rugby league players having to migrate to the Eastern States to reach their potential as professional players.

Recently the Chairman of ARLC (Australian Rugby League Commission) announced it was unlikely Western Australia would be offered a NRL license to compete in the National competition in the foreseeable future.

The WA State Government has been very supportive of establishing a team in WA and the support for the code is obvious when the State of Origin (NSW v Queensland) established a record at OPTUS Stadium when over 60,000 Rugby League fans attended that game.

Of this attendance number, the State Government statistics quoted around 20,000 were interstate visitors and 40,000 were Western Australian residents.

The ARLC Chairman suggested one of the reasons that Western Australia is not a suitable market is the travel schedule impact on players from Eastern and Western teams, ignoring the fact that some of the most successful Australian sporting teams in the AFL, Basketball, Soccer and Netball are based in Western Australia. Another reason was the fact that the AFL is well established in WA, overlooking the fact that Melbourne Storm are one of the most successful Rugby League teams in the National competition.

Around 1995 to 1997 a First Grade Rugby League team called the Western Reds played in the National competition and attracted 25,000 fans to its opening game and averaged 14,000 spectators to its home games, which surpasses the average numbers that attend many of the NSW games.

If WA had a side in the National competition it would allow two premier teams to be featured on TV due to the time difference between Eastern and Western Australia.

West Australia also boasts two world-class venues, Optus Stadium and HBF Stadium which are ideal venues for the Rugby League code.

Currently, the local Rugby League competition with 8 league teams is rarely featured in the Western Australian newspapers or TV making it difficult for local Clubs to attract sponsors, new members and current First Grade players to join an elite team in their own State.

NRL-WA has a professional administration team here in WA that develops the code at State level and also fields a representative team (The Cash Converters West Coast Pirates) in the SG Ball Cup competition, which is a National under 18 Year competition. This gives local boys the opportunity to test themselves against the best players in their age group. Several players have gone on to play First Grade in the NRL from these teams.

A team in a National competition would give locally born players an opportunity to play for a WA elite team and as Rugby League is played in the UK, France and NZ the opportunity to play with the Australian Kangaroos nationally and overseas.

The opening of a rugby league franchise in Western Australia is strongly supported by the state government, the tourism sector (due to the obvious economic impact) and private enterprise.

ACTION

To confirm that the Rugby League code has a substantial following in Western Australia and a desire to have a team in the National competition, local Clubs are supporting a petition to call on the NRL to revisit their decision. The petition will be launched to coincide with the visit of the Sydney Roosters in Mid- February 2020 to play in the NRL Rugby nines competition.