Weight-based rugby league format tested

Matthew Hughes

NRL Victoria will host a weight-based gala day for 11 and 12 year olds at Gosch's Paddock on Sunday April 7.

The event will be held from 11am to 3pm, coinciding with the mini family day festival from 12.30pm and ahead of the Melbourne Storm v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs clash at AAMI Park at 4.05pm.

The gala day will mark the first time the weight-based format has been tested in Australia, however it has been successfully implemented in New Zealand for a number of years.

The gala day will give 11 and 12 year olds weighing under 39 kilograms a chance to play against children of their own weight.

According to NRL.com, weight-based age groups provide "an alternative format and cater for variance in physical, mental and emotional development of participants, particularly through late childhood and early adolescence."

Basically, the format ensures children are not discouraged from playing, due to more physically mature opponents.

Research from the NRL’s 2017 retention study showed that "weight differences were a commonly occurring theme among junior participants who had left the game."

"This will be a great opportunity to get an indication if weight-based age groups can work," NRL Victoria Operations Manager Murray Newham said.

"The gala day will allow us to gauge if potentially weight-based competitions will bring more people to the game who normally would not play based on their size."

For more information or to register visit the NRL event page.

The Storm v Bulldogs game is free to attend for all children accompanied by a full-paying adult.