The Queensland Rugby League has committed to a three-year expansion model that will see the women’s BMD Premiership match the statewide footprint of the current Hostplus Cup competition.
Following consultation with stakeholders across the game and the review of submitted club applications, the QRL Board has approved the entry of the Sunshine Coast Falcons and Western Clydesdales for the 2024 season.
They join the Brisbane Tigers, Burleigh Bears, Central Queensland Capras, Mackay Cutters, Norths Devils, Souths Logan Magpies, Tweed Seagulls and Wynnum Manly Seagulls in a 10-team BMD Premiership.
The QRL’s expansion plan is for the Northern Pride and Ipswich Jets to enter in 2025, and the Townsville Blackhawks and Redcliffe Dolphins to field teams in 2026.
All future expansion is subject to a point in time assessment of club readiness.
There have also been discussions about the future inclusion of the Papua New Guinea Hunters, should funding be available to support their participation.
QRL general manager of pathways and performance Glenn Ottaway said the BMD Premiership was an important cog in the female game.
“While the NRLW is played at the back end of the year, the BMD Premiership remains the primary competition from which the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons team is selected,” Ottaway said.
“Our ability to deliver expansion on the back of strong female participation growth creates the opportunity for the game to expand at a national level, including at least one additional Queensland NRLW team within the same period.”
Ottaway backed both the Falcons and Clydesdales to be highly competitive in their debut seasons in the BMD Premiership next year.
“The inclusion of both clubs expands the statewide footprint outside of the south east,” Ottaway said.
“Importantly, the Falcons and Clydesdales are backed by strong female participation growth and established competitions in their respective catchment areas.
“We acknowledge the work both clubs have put in to secure their entry into the 2024 competition and we look forward to watching their development.”
The Burleigh Bears will shape up as the defending premiers after downing the Wynnum Manly Seagulls 24-10 in this year’s grand final.
Six players involved in that match were later selected in the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons squad for Game I of the State of Origin series against New South Wales.
They were Bears trio Tazmin Gray, Sophie Holyman and Zahara Temara; and Seagulls stars Emily Bass, Shaniah Power and Julia Robinson.