Development Competitions

The 2022 Hunter Junior Rugby League season will see the expansion of Development Competitions reach across the Newcastle and Maitland area for the Under 10s and Under 11s age groups. This page helps to answer some of the most common questions raised as the changes brought about by these new competition structures are implemented across the association.

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What are Development Competitions?

Development Competitions are designed to create an environment for participants that is fun and inclusive for all. Development Competitions allow coaches to focus entirely on technical, tactical, physical and social development in their players. A more inclusive environment which promotes personal development and positive social interactions is created by removing the current short-sighted consensus that premierships are essential to childhood sports and future sporting success.

What's wrong with kids playing competitively?

Compete at all times, not win at all costs.

Competing is the essence of Rugby League. However when there is a strong focus on winning, decisions regarding participation and playing for fun with mates, and ensuring a fair and equitable selection process can be compromised. Teams will still be encouraged to compete respectfully each time they play, however premierships and finals series will be delayed until the Under 12’s age group.

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How does this affect my child's season?

In terms of regular season structure, there will be no difference. Teams will still compete across 14 regular season rounds. The only difference will be that competition ladders will not be available throughout the year and at the conclusion of the season there will not be a finals series.

How do Development Competitions work? 

By removing premierships and competition points, Clubs will be encouraged to spread their talent pool within an age group across all of their teams, starting from the Under 6s.

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Does this mean my child won't be able to play with his friends?

Not at all. If the talent spread is implemented correctly and early, than a team should be able to progress through the age groups together. However, other factors such as the different team sizes per age group will also need to be factored in as they move through the age groups.

Have Development Competitions been effective elsewhere?

During 2010, in response to declining junior participation rates the Mackay JRL trialled non-premiership development competitions up to U11s. After 8 years of implementation, Mackay's participation rate at U11 level has grown approximately 44%, with year-on-year retention rates reaching 83%.

For further information and research findings, visit the PRL Development Competitions webpage.

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