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NRL takes off in the Top End

Rugby League NT

Image: NRL Game Development Officer Trent Gorrie with students from Good Shepherd Lutheran College, Leanyer.


Rugby league is making great strides in the Northern Territory with schools in Darwin and Katherine very keen to book in the popular NRL Backyard League program. 

Northern Territory Game Development Officer Trent Gorrie says he’s thrilled with the response from schools in the Territory.

“It’s fantastic to have such a good reception from the Northern Territory schools and to teach new skills to lots of students who had never participated in rugby league before,” he says.

“In Term 1 this year we had five schools that had limited or no rugby league experience and with Term 2 coming up we have six more schools requesting the NRL to visit their school.”

In 2017, St Francis of Assisi, Palmerston Christian School and Clyde Fenton School all jumped on board, running NRL Sporting Schools programs at their schools.

He says the feedback from the program was so positive it has prompted more primary schools, such as Jingili, Wulagi, Bakewell, Good Shepherd, Wanguri, Sacred Heart and Katherine South, to try the Backyard League Sporting Schools program this year.

The program caters for students in Foundation through to Year 6 with another program, LIFT (League Integrated Fundamentals Training), designed for the Sporting Schools’ Secondary School program. 

Wanguri Primary School teacher Brianna Edmunds says she’s very happy with the success of the program at their school.

“The NRL programs run at Wanguri Primary through Sporting Schools enabled students to try a sport they would normally shy away from due to the tackling aspect,” she says.


“By the end of our sessions, students were organising their own rugby league games at recess and lunch time as they had so much fun learning a new sport and skills.”


She says the coaches each worked differently to provide students with a wealth of new knowledge about the NRL itself, how to be a fair team player and to respect umpiring and coaching officials.

“It has been a great program for all students both new and familiar to the sport and we will be welcoming them back at Wanguri again.”

Thanks to programs such as Sporting Schools and NRL-run Gala Days, Gorrie says the popularity of rugby league is rapidly increasing in the Territory.

“Regular school competitions (which were previously non-existent) have grown to eight teams in just two years,” he says.


Sporting Schools is a $160 million Australian Government initiative to get more children playing more sport, before, during and after school. Want to run a Rugby League program at your school? Check out all the details on the National Rugby League page.

Looking for a club in your area? https://playnrl.com/club-finder/