08 June 2022

Are you passionate about making a difference and having your say in shaping the future of rugby league in New Zealand?

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) are looking for 4 to 5 passionate youth (aged between 16 to 20 years old) to support and co-design the establishment of a Youth Advisory Group.

The aim is to work with selected youth to co-design the Youth Advisory Group, ensuring it is a meaningful and impactful foundation that works for youth before looking to expand the group further in 2023. We know our youth have vital insights, knowledge and experiences that will be invaluable to creating greater opportunities for our community and the future of rugby league in New Zealand.

What we are looking for

  • Youth between the ages of 16 to 20 years old
  • Diversity of gender and ethnicity
  • Mixture of geographical location
  • Range of involvement and experiences in rugby league

Selected youth will be expected to provide and share their experiences and knowledge, contribute towards set tasks created through meetings, and work collaboratively with all members of the group and NZRL.

Youth would be expected to meet monthly to complete the following objectives below in collaboration with NZRL before expanding the group in 2023.


  • Co-design key roles and responsibilities with NZRL for the Youth Advisory Group.
  • Establish how the group would like to operate, including engaging with young people and with NZRL.
  • Identify key areas within the community and age-grade levels that the Youth Advisory Group would like to engage with, considering ideas on improvements or where greater opportunities could occur for youth moving forward.
  • Create a work plan for the youth advisory group, including a meeting schedule that can accommodate all members.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in being a part of, please fill out this form here.

Expression of interest will be open until Friday 17th June. If you have any questions or queries, please feel free to email Yvaan.hapuku-lambert@nzrl.co.nz

27 September 2021

New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the National Youth Tournament returns for 2021, albeit in a revised weekly competition format to cater to Covid gathering restrictions.

The 2021 National Youth Competition will take place over three weekends instead of its usual one-week tournament format, kicking off this Saturday, 2nd October.

Despite pandemic setbacks, the best of New Zealand’s rangatahi talent will be on display as Zones battle it out for the highly contested 16s and 18s age group titles.

Both 16s and 18s competitions for this year will comprise of two pools:

Pool A – South Island Scorpions, Wellington Orcas, Mid Central Vipers, Upper Central Stallions and Northern Swords.

Pool B – Counties Manukau, Akarana Falcons and Auckland Vulcans.

Pool A will kick off this Saturday 2nd October, while Pool B can only begin once Auckland is in Level 2, subject to the October 4 announcement.

The 2021 Youth Competition Final will see the top of Pool A take on top of Pool B, in both 16 and 18 age groups, on Saturday, October 30.

Motu Tony, GM of Football and High Performance at NZRL says, “We were close to having to go two years without the Youth Competition due to Covid disruptions, but to see it ready to kick off in 2021, albeit a new format, is a great accomplishment.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for these age group players, as it can be a steppingstone to NZ representative teams, our 20s competition and potential professional pathways. The high number of Kiwi NRL debutants  this NRL season who have played in our national tournaments and representative teams has been pleasing. This shows how important it is to hold our national tournaments as it provides our rangatahi with opportunities that can positively impact their lives on and off the field.”

Tony adds, “Thank you to the Zones, Districts and all NZRL staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the Youth Competition was possible. I’m looking forward to seeing the calibre of our young talent on display come October.”

Over the past ten years, the NZRL Youth Tournament has been home to some of the biggest NRL and Kiwi names such as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Fisher-Harris, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Dylan Brown and many more.

NZRL will release the full National Youth Competition draws early this week.

No crowds are permitted at National Youth Competition games while at Alert Level 2.

26 February 2021

  • New Zealand Rugby League and Auckland Rugby League have worked together to design a new approach to junior league.
  • The first year kids play rugby league (U6) will be played under non-contact ‘League Tag’ rules for the first half of the season. At the halfway point teams can decide if they want to stick to non-contact or switch to tackling. 
  • It will also be mandatory for U6 coaches to deliver a six-week tackle confidence programme.
  • In the U8-U12 grades a first-receiver bib will be used in games, this is to encourage skill development in playmakers by allowing the person in that bib to run, score and be tackled without two passes being required (which was the case under the old rules).
  • In the U9-U12 grades there’ll also be a dummy-half bib used for the same reasons as outlined above.
  • This framework will be rolled out in full in all U6-U12 grades in Auckland this year and piloted in those grades around the rest of New Zealand this year.

New Zealand Rugby League and Auckland Rugby League have collaborated to design a new approach to junior rugby league, which will see significant changes come into effect from this year. 

After working alongside the NZRL to set out the vision for junior league in the country, the ARL will rollout the new Junior Development Framework (JDF) in full for all mini/mod (U6-U12) grades in 2021.  

Supported by the NZRL, the ARL has piloted aspects of the framework in various children’s grades in Auckland since 2017, seeking consultation from local coaches, players, managers and club chairs along the way. 

While the ARL will implement the new JDF immediately, the NZRL will be adopting a staggered approach with their regions in the rollout of the new framework. 

The biggest changes are in the U6 grade where children have their first experience of organised rugby league.

Under the JDF the first eight weeks of the U6 season will be played under League Tag (non-contact) rules, while come the second half of the season teams will have the choice of continuing to play League Tag or to switch to traditional contact rugby league.  

For that grade it will be mandatory for coaches to deliver a six-week tackle confidence programme through the opening two months of the season, regardless of which form of the game they choose for the second part of the year.   

In relation to skill development and encouraging decision making in the formative years, a crucial aspect is the introduction of first-receiver bibs for the U8-U12 grades, with dummy-half bibs also being used from the U9-U12 grades.

Both bibs allow the player wearing it to run, score and be tackled without two passes being required or a change of possession being triggered (normal mini-mod rules state that two passes must be achieved to retain possession).

ARL game development and participation manager Sam Cawdron said the framework was about evolving the game to suit the attitudes and needs of those involved at junior levels.

“The JDF is heavily geared towards teaching safer tackling and giving kids confidence in contact, along with encouraging skill development, decision making and a learning and play-orientated approach for our youngest players,” Cawdron said. 

“The move to introduce League Tag for the first half of the season for the U6 grade means teams can be put through a tackle confidence programme and then decide whether they are ready to move to contact or want to continue to play League Tag. 

“This is to help build confidence and gives kids a chance to learn and be introduced to tackling. 

“Providing kids with the option on when to switch over to contact allows them to be develop at their own pace, keeping in mind that current NRL stars such as Shaun Johnson, Benji Marshall and Ryan Papenhuyzen all come from non-contact backgrounds.

“League Tag is going to help open up rugby league to a larger group of the population who are interested in a non-contact activity.”

NZRL general manager of high performance and football, Motu Tony, said the changes are a positive for the game. 

“Extensive research and collaboration have gone into this project to ensure that our participants at the Kiwi League Kids level (formerly mini/mod) have a rugby league programme that is enjoyable, safe and helps develop them on and off the field,” Tony said. 

“I would particularly like to thank the ARL for their partnership and fantastic work during the three-year pilot programme, which has resulted in an offering that I am sure will be enjoyed by all our KLK participants.”

For further information and coaching resources click here

Junior Development Framework features outlined:

  • Applies to all mini/mod (U6-U12) grades in Auckland in 2021.  
  • Being piloted in all mini/mod grades throughout the rest of New Zealand in 2021.
  • For the U6 grade only the first eight weeks of the season will be played under League Tag (non-contact) rules. Teams will then have the choice of continuing to play League Tag or to switch to traditional contact league for the second eight weeks of the season.
  • For the U6 grade it will be mandatory for coaches to deliver a tackle confidence programme in the first eight weeks of the season.
  • From the U8 grade up first-receiver bibs will be used to encourage decision making and skill development.
  • From the U9 grade up dummy-half bibs will also be used to encourage decision making and skill development.
  • The U12 grade will see two first receiver bibs used to encourage playmaking and providing options on both sides of the ruck, plus the dummy-half bib.

Following the conclusion of the Talent Development Programme, New Zealand Rugby League is excited to announce the 25-man squads for the NZ16s Residents and NZ18s Residents. Congratulations to all of those selected.

Fixtures and more information on these teams will be released in the coming week.

NZ Residents 16s Wider Squad

NZ Residents 18s Wider Squad

Round three of the Talent Development Programme’s competition phase saw the level of rugby league go up a notch where stakes were at their highest.

Teams had finals in their sights as Northern faced Southern and Counties went head to head with Central in both 16s and 18s age groups. Counties 16s waltzed into the final winning three from three where they will take on Northern who conceded only one game to Counties.

The 18s age-group saw Northern comfortably beat Southern for a spot in the final where they will play Central who pipped Counties in a thriller on Saturday afternoon.

Results from round three with footage below:

Northern 44 – 6 Southern
Counties 56 – 4 Central

Central 40 – 36 Counties
Northern 52 – 36 Southern

Finals draw to be played Saturday, March 24 at Cornwall Park:

16s – Field one – 11am Counties v Northern
– Field three – 11am Central v Southern

18s – Field one – 1pm Northern v Central
– Field three – 1pm Southern v Counties

Northern 44 – 6 Southern

Counties 56 – 4 Central

Central 40 – 36 Counties

Northern 52 – 36 Southern