Queensland Rugby League's South East Region, through the support of clubs, coaches and players, will provide a women’s rugby league opportunity that will allow elite players to press their case for State of Origin selection later this year.
While all of the QRL’s statewide competitions, including the BHP Premiership, were unfortunately cancelled for season 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, many local leagues and clubs have been following the Queensland Government guidelines and the QRL’s Return to Play protocols in order to get rugby league back on the field.
The majority of southeast Queensland-based BHP Premiership clubs have been no different and have worked with the QRL to ensure players can return to the field through a structured format.
The Holcim Cup will begin on Saturday, August 1 and is being staged to provide much needed game time to help bolster the preparations of the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons squad, who will be aiming to claim the State of Origin shield in November.
The teams taking part are Burleigh Bears, Easts Tigers, Souths Logan Magpies, Tweed Seagulls and West Brisbane Panthers.
While the start up competition will be based in the south-east of the state; there have also been arrangements made to incorporate Maroons squad members who registered with the regional BHP Premiership teams.
A selection of Brothers Ipswich players have also been reallocated to other clubs for the duration of the carnival competition, as have a number of talented Queensland Under 18 performance programs players.
An innovative competition format has been designed to accommodate five teams, with all matches each round being played at one location. Each round will consist of five 30-minute halves, with all teams playing 60 minutes each weekend to avoid a bye.
Under this format, it is not possible to play each other exactly the same number of times, but everyone plays the same number of halves.
The five teams will play across five rounds, with finals matches scheduled for September 5.
The scoring system to determine rankings for finals consideration is as follows:
- One point for cumulative points win (0.5 for draw)
- One point on offer for each half won (0.5 for a draw)
- A maximum of three points per round is available per team
The dates of the Holcim Cup have been structured to align as much as possible with the proposed NRLW pre-season and starting dates for the competition which the NRL confirmed would go ahead this year.
Maroons coaches Jason Hetherington, Karyn Murphy and Nat Dwyer have worked closely with the five club coaches along with Brisbane Broncos coach Kelvin Wright.
“All the BHP Premiership club CEOs and coaches have been fantastic in doing everything possible to support Queensland players in having the best preparation for players to be ready for a November Origin clash,” QRL senior pathways and performance manager Brett Jones said.
“The club coaches should be congratulated for the way in which they have engaged the players and are preparing them. We know players face a higher risk of injury after this unique down period, so player preparation and physical wellbeing will be a key focus over the coming months.”
Holcim Queensland general manager for concrete Max Arthur said it was an exciting time to be involved in the game.
“Holcim is very pleased to be able to support some of the state’s best women’s rugby league players return to the field,” Arthur said.
“Holcim has enjoyed a long partnership with the QRL in the South East and we are thrilled to now extend that support to the Holcim Cup.”