The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have today had their application granted to enter a team in the NRLW in 2023.
In a landmark day for the club and the North Queensland region, the Cowboys’ NRLW team marks the first North Queensland team entered in Australia’s premier women’s rugby league competition.
Today’s announcement is the culmination of an almost three-year process, which began with the formation of the Cowboys Women’s Academy in 2019.
On that day in September, 2019, Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel declared the club would be ready to field an NRLW side in 2023 and today that dream became a reality.
Following the formation of the Women’s Academy, the North Queensland Gold Stars were established in 2020 to play in the BMD Premiership – Queensland’s top women’s competition.
The 2020 competition was cancelled after just one game due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the side returned for their first full season in 2021 and embarked on a deep finals run, falling just one game short of the decider.
It's time for a new chapter to begin
This season the Gold Stars claimed a fairytale maiden premiership with a last minute try against the CQ Capras in a thrilling grand final.
Eight Gold Stars were recruited for the delayed 2021 NRLW season, highlighting the rapid growth of the women’s rugby league pathway in North Queensland.
The 2023 NRLW season is expected to begin in August.
“This is a truly fantastic day for our club and rugby league in North Queensland,” Reibel said.
“I’d like to firstly thank our board for their vision and providing the opportunity and support to enter a submission.
“This is a reward for the hard work of the people inside our club who put so much time and care into growing our women’s program from the grassroots, culminating in our successful submission.
“It’s also a reward for every young girl in North Queensland who wants to play the game of rugby league. If we look back to 1995 and why this club was born, which was to allow North Queenslanders to be able to play rugby league at the top level without having to leave home and now we can do that with a women’s team as well.
“Rugby league is now quite rightly an elite sport internationally for both men and women and it was crucial for our club to have a full time women’s team to provide a legitimate pathway for North Queenslanders to the elite sporting arena.”