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REAL NRL: Competition expands its junior rugby league format

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Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) is looking to expand its under-19 competition in 2024.

The move would allow the Wyong Roos and The Entrance Tigers, who currently contest the Denton Engineering Cup, to field sides in that younger age group, too.

It comes after Central Coast Rugby League (CCRL), Newcastle Rugby League, Hunter Junior Rugby League (HJRL) and NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) negotiated terms to change the under-18 and under-19 formats across the region from next year.

In 2024, the Central Coast under-19 and Newcastle under-18.5 competitions will combine into a single structure.

And, to assist in having those players compete at a level to match their capability – as well as align with the draw, the Roos and Tigers will be invited to enter teams in an extended Real NRL under-19 set-up with the present local organisations.

Central Coast and Newcastle’s existing junior competitions are expected to continue as well, providing participants with a wider range of opponents, compared to what is available to them in the current format.

All parties will discuss player movement transfers and other rules over the coming months.

HJRL chairman Bob Dixon welcomed the outcome.

“This is a great example of the benefits of open dialog and collaboration between stakeholders to deliver an opportunity for our players to pursue their careers,” he said.

“We’ll continue to work closely together to further enhance competitions for the 17, 18 and 19 age groups.”

CCRL president Gerard Andrews echoed those sentiments.

“It provides the chance for current under-17s and continuing under-19s from both regions to partake in a competition with similar abilities resulting in both balance and sustainability,” he said.

Newcastle Rugby League GM Adam Devcich highlighted the positives.

“Player numbers and, as a result, team numbers in the under-18s and under-19s is an issue in all regions,” he said.

“So, to combine the Central Coast under-19s and the Newcastle under-18.5s and give Wyong and The Entrance the opportunity to play in the Real NRL under-19s, providing all youngsters at that age across both regions a chance to play the level that best suits them, is good for the game’s sustainability.”

Meanwhile, in senior Newcastle Rugby League news, coaching legend Rip Taylor has agreed to mentor the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs for the next three years, taking over the reins from Danny Linnane.

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