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Letter to the NRL + ARLC

Dear the Australian Rugby League Commission and the NRL, please stop disrespecting the women. You are doing it, and you don’t even know you are doing it because you are so out of touch and oblivious to their situations. It comes across like you don’t care, and it’s embarrassing.

There are people at the NRL who have worked tirelessly to make the women’s game better - Fi, Tiff, Brad, Bucko, Rochelle and then Lina at the RLPA, not to mention all of the players. From my understanding, they are not even being heard.

Postponement was always coming - that is not the problem here.

The key to any success in life, is communication.

And so far, it has been appalling. You have not listened, you have told. And even in telling you have struggled to write your words.

Let me provide some context.

The NRLW competition was due to commence in August, coinciding with Round 23 of the men’s season.

There was to be an expanded competition with thre new teams, Warriors dropped the ball because let’s be honest, they don’t value the women’s team, and yes that is a dig at them because they did have to relocate because of COVID, but the NRL always help, so don’t use finances as an excuse.

That left us with the Titans, Eels, Knights along with the Dragons, Roosters and the mighty Broncos.

Days before the first pre-season is supposed to start, it was delayed due to COVID, and rightly so. Let me just say this is football specific, not global specific because I feel more for people outside of the sporting world right now.

Then chats begin. The NRL began conversations with the players, coaches, administration to work out, what’s next?

They sent a player poll out.

The options were:

Relocation, delay, or ‘next year’.

75 per cent voted relocation, that was ignored.

The game didn’t actually think the women would move.

Then time was running out, outside of rugby league the Trans-Tasman border was looking like it was going to shut.

More news arrived.

NRLW to be played Grand Final week. You beauty!

But, COVID cases were rising, the situation was worsening and players started to sense concern.

Days out from the start of the second pre-season, the game brings it all to a halt and says it will communicate soon.

Women have been relocated for a month by this time.

Women have taken the risk for opportunity.

Women have turned their focus to footy.

Women know they have another salary coming in soon.

And that salary was looking pretty good this year - average was about $16,000.

Then all went to sh--!

Borders closed, whispers started, broadcasters weren’t keen, the game’s employees are tired. How can you blame them? They’re trying to keep the men’s competition alive in Queensland and dealing with a string of stupid and typical ‘boy’ issues.

More useless meetings are held, frustration grows, but the understanding is still there from the players. They know deep down it can’t go ahead because of the semi-professional nature of their competition, the danger of COVID and the tough work-footy balance situation.

Players are left in limbo, there’s misunderstandings and more miscommunication.

Players reaching out to journalists to find out information, including myself.

Players scared to speak, they’re in fear of losing their contracts, judged by their peers, dropped by their coaches - being told to stay in their lane and be grateful.

Queensland resident NRLW players finally get on a plane with the female cricketers and a bunch of NRL girlfriends and wives - this is the second charter flight to QLD - after the first charter and after the tow trucks drove up NRL players’ cars from different states.

This charter flight flew up on Monday and the NRL finishes in a month.

Are you kidding? Five NRLW players finally get into quarantine to return home for freedom after being locked down for two months.

A random father called me in despair. So concerned for his daughters welfare. He didn’t know where to turn.

Seven New Zealand players are stranded in Australia. No idea when they’ll get home.

Yes, still no word from NRL…

Finally, the NRL drops the bomb, but tries to make it look pretty with a big schedule in 2022.

You are so out of touch.

Listen to me right now and I can tell you I am speaking on behalf of the majority of the women and the players.

Postponement is fine.

A full calendar is fine

But you have to pay them.

In 2022, you are suggesting a top 30 player will start training again in January, play NRLW in February through to April, then head back to their state competition to play until June, then will play State of Origin, go back to their state competition and then play another NRLW competition and then a World Cup.

That doesn’t even include the training camps, the All Stars and their full-time jobs that pay for their football.

That wreaks of injuries.

That wreaks of stress and anxiety.

And it says so much about your lack of communication.

If I can give you one tip - and I will leave it here.

You are at a point where you have female participation rates shooting through the roof, stop flogging a dead horse.

Stop putting so much money into the men’s game, who continue to let you down.

Invest in the women, pay your women and I guarantee you they will make you all the money.

Be the difference, be the change. Every other competition is overtaking you in supportive women and equality.

Short term pain for long term gain.

Well, the women have suffered for long enough.

There’s no more of this grateful BS.

Consult your women, pay your women properly and make it a safe space to do so.

And to the NRL players, if you’re listening, support your peers.

Right now, I’m seeing nothing and it’s disgusting.

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