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The 2017 edition of the NRL Masters Carnival is shaping to be the biggest in the tournament’s 11-year history.

Played across three days at the Runaway Bay Seagulls Rugby League Club, the tournament provides an opportunity for men, and now women, aged 35 years and older to socialise and play football in a safe environment.

This year, two women’s sides will feature as part of the carnival, with the Richmond Roses (Auckland) and a Runaway Bay Women’s side becoming the first female sides to participate in the carnival.

“It’s great to have two women’s sides playing at the carnival for the first time and we expect that number to grow in the coming years,” Tournament Director Graham McNaney said.

The official event proceedings got underway last night (Wednesday, March 8) with the Welcome Dinner, before wall-to-wall rugby league action began with the first games kicking off at 9.45am this morning (Thursday, March 9).

“It’s a really good opportunity for mature-aged players to continue their enjoyment from the game,” McNaney said.

“We’ve taken all the competitiveness out of it, we don’t keep scores and the rules are heavily modified.

“The players just want to play footy and have a good time. It’s a very social event.

“People can bring their parents, kids and partners who can do the wide range of things the Gold Coast has to offer while they play footy.”

A record 89 teams featuring more than 1800 participants have registered for this weekend’s tournament, an increase on the previous record of 83 teams set at last year’s event.

The tournament has continued to attract a global audience, with teams from across Australia and as far as the United Kingdom converging at the Seagulls home ground for the weekend.

“We have two teams from the Cook Islands, three from New Zealand, a side from Norfolk Island and a team from the UK,” McNaney said.

“Every state and territory is represented this year except for Western Australia and Tasmania.”

The carnival will feature 230 matches before closing with a Final Dinner and footy panel featuring former State of Origin forwards Nathan Hindmarsh and Queensland fan favourite Petero Civoniceva as well former NRL referee and current QRL Referee’s manager Eddie Ward.

*For more information about NRL Masters – head to their website: NRL Masters