Rugby League Flourishes in the Goldfields

The following story was featured in the Kalgoorlie Miner on the 30th November, 2011.

WA Rugby League Operations and Development Manager Dale Christy expects the job of selling the game locally at grass roots level will be a more straight-forward challenge in comparison to similar efforts in the metropolitan area. Christy emerged from last week’s special four-day development schedule in local schools highly impressed by the level of interest for the code in an otherwise Australian Rules-dominated region. “It’s not difficult (to promote Rugby League in the Goldfields) and it’s actually easier here than it is in Perth,” Christy said. “The (local) kids have the same level of ability and that’s a fact. “For instance, we visited kids in Kambalda (last Wednesday) and each class knew what Rugby League was and had played it or tried it before – or at least some form of the game, like touch. “The question we kept being asked was, ‘how can we get more?’, and the kids are already familiar with some of the players. “If you can get kids to recognise the game’s star players, then you’re halfway there.”

WARL Chief Executive Officer John Sackson sees massive Rugby League potential in the region – based largely on the high number of workers now residing in the Goldfields, especially in the mining industry, with strong backgrounds in the sport. “There’s got to be a lot of expatriate Queenslanders, New South Welshmen and Kiwis here – people who grew up with the game in Rugby League heartlands, have been exposed to it and know how great it is,” Sackson said. “They are the sort of people we want to encourage to put their hand up and come and support the growth of Rugby League in the Goldfields. “It’s very, very important and we know they’re out there. “Now it’s just a case of them identifying themselves and supporting the game they love for the sake of making it stronger.” The Goldfields was once regarded among Rugby League’s strongest regional centres. In 1997, the region was on the brink of being admitted to Perth’s Premier League, but the local game fell on tough times before eventually folding two years later. “Looking into the history of Rugby League in the Goldfields, I was amazed to hear there was a local (domestic) competition which involved about five clubs,” Sackson said. “Our vision for the future is getting an NRL franchise back to Perth and representing the State of WA and an independent commission is on the verge of forming. “There has been a lot of delays, but it is an extremely significant change in the landscape of Rugby League after all these years. “One of the issues will be expansion and we hear consistently, from a number of sources throughout the game on the east coast, that Perth is seen as one of the right places to go to get one of two licences. “Nothing will accelerate the growth of Rugby League more in WA than having an NRL team representing the State.”