Last weekend saw the start of the Rugby League Gold Coast competition, and there were no more excited players and parents than those involved in the Under-6 carnival held at Runaway Bay.
Titans prop Jarrod Wallace added even more excitement to the day, visiting his junior club and spending time with each team ahead of their first game of rugby league for the season, and in some instances, their first ever.
The carnival was created to mark the start of a new initiative introduced by the NRL where all Under-6 players compete in ‘League Tag’ as a variation to the normal tackle version of the game. The NRL have put the trial in place throughout southeast Queensland as part of the new NRL Player Development framework.
The framework aims to respond to what kids, parents and junior rugby league clubs said they wanted – junior footy that is fun, friendly and free-flowing.
Wallace admits he was unsure about the changes initially, but after seeing the new game in action, he can see the benefit.
“I was sceptical of the changes when I first heard about them, but coming along here and watching the boys and girls play, they are certainly enjoying the game and running around on the field,” he said.
“There are a lot more tries being scored, happy faces and cheering from the sidelines.”
Rugby League Gold Coast Manager Scott Dunshea said it was great to see the kids having fun.
“Runaway Bay hosted a great event with this being the first time the Under-6s playing league tag,” Dunshea said.
“What pleases me most is seeing the kids carrying the ball in two hands more confidently without the fear of a collision.
“At the moment they are able to run, pass, step and most importantly enjoy their first experience of playing rugby league.
“The plan being, once they reach Under-7s, they will learn to tackle safely through the introduction of the Tackle Safe program that will be implemented by trained NRL Game Development staff.”
The Tackle Safe program another of the new initiatives being piloted, along with 18-month registration windows and increasing the non-competitive age groups to Under-13s.
To view more information about the NRL Player Development framework head to: playnrl.com/framework.