The South East region is in the midst of finals fever.
Over the weekend we saw some close games and good support for deciders in our Rugby League Brisbane Open Men's, our SEQ women's competitions and the Debbie Marzella Cup on the Gold Coast.
We had great attendances at all three venues used for the senior matches along with some nail-biting results.
The Brisbane Open Men’s competition has attracted some significant high-profile players in 2023, none more so than Sam Thaiday playing for Samford and Liam Georgetown for Burpengary in the Division 2 North competition, where both players faced off against each other in the grand final held at Pine Central Holy Spirit's Les Hughes Sporting Complex last weekend.
Having these NRL and Queensland Cup experienced players giving back to their local league teams is vitally important to these clubs as it raises the profile of the teams, creating greater interest within the community and overall competition.
A lot of NRL or Queensland Cup players finish their careers at the elite level but wish to continue playing, however they're bodies can’t cope with the rigours of elite training and competition anymore.
They just want to have a light session during the week and go and play the game on the weekend, where the pace of the game and the physicality of the game is a fraction of what they experienced in first grade.
The opportunity for the next generation of player to learn from these elite players at community level cannot be underestimated - they're just enjoying their footy, playing with their mates and playing in their local community, which is what it's all about.
The highlight of my weekend was being at Totally Workwear Stadium for our women's grand finals.
Playing at such a venue, which hosted NRLW matches recently, was also a great opportunity for the players and brought a real sense of occasion.
We had a different format for our community leagues that ended with our northside winner Banyo taking on southside winner Beaudesert in a cross-river final, the latter winning 16-14 in our first game of the day.
It was followed by our reserve grade, which Mustangs Brothers won 34-10 over Brisbane Natives, and the pinnacle that is our Holcim Cup A grade final.
Goodna Eagles got a 20-point win, but I thought the game was closer than the scoreboard showed.
The standard of the female game continues to improve year-on-year and as more women and girls get involved in rugby league and clubs invest more into female game with better facilities, training, coaching and skill development, the quality of performance will continue to soar.
We saw just how many talented girls are coming through at the community level following our junior girls grand finals at Waterford the previous weekend where there was several quality games produced which is very exciting for the future.
North Ipswich Reserve will play hosts to Rugby League Ipswich’s remaining junior and senior grand finals over the coming weeks, while Rugby League Gold Coast's junior grand finals will be held at Beaudesert on September 9, and their senior grand final at UAA Park on September 10.
Rugby League Brisbane senior grand finals, including the BRL Premier A Grade decider, will be held at Totally Workwear Stadium on September 9, with Kayo Stadium at Redcliffe hosting the Division 1 junior grand finals for the under 15 through to under 18 age groups on Sunday, September 3.
We continue to urge everyone to focus on promoting a positive environment and enjoy the footy we have left before what always feels like a long offseason.
Despite featuring them in this space earlier this year, another shout out needs to go to the Waterford Demons for their continued support of female rugby league. After hosting our first gala day at late notice before we kicked off the season, they again did a great job facilitating the junior girls grand finals on August 19. Well done to Mick and Marleis Sparey in particular, once again.