Multiple Dunedin tournaments to showcase game

The best young rugby league talent in the South Island will be on display in Dunedin this year.

Tournaments in July and September headline a big year for the sport in the city.

Both the 15s and 17s age-grade South Island tournaments will be held at Logan Park from July 13 to 16 - the second week of the school holidays.

Teams will travel from West Coast, Southland, Canterbury, Tasman and Aoraki to join Otago in each tournament.

Both finals will be held at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

On the weekend of September 28-29 the 13s and 14s grade South Island tournament for both boys and girls will be held, as well as a 19s tournament.

The tournaments were on weeks generally free of rugby union games, allowing youngsters to have a go at the sport.

That participation was a key driver for Southern zone rugby league general manager Steve Martin. However, he said there would also be a presence from the sport's national body, the New Zealand Warriors and possibly other NRL clubs.

Alongside that, a girls tournament would be held on August 10 to give them a chance to play the game.

Likewise, a masters tournament - for players 35 and over - would be held at the Kensington Oval over Queen's Birthday Weekend.

A secondary schools competition is also set to begin in the spring, after rugby union had finished.

That would include the junior year groups, although a senior one will also be run if there is enough interest.

Martin said it was exciting to have so much on as the organisation looked to get the sport back into the public eye.

Making it accessible was key and delivering it in a way that did not clash with other codes was a way to give people the chance to "have a crack at it".

"It has proven difficult over the years to get rugby league back up and operating for young folk on a meaningful basis.

"It has been seen as a winter code and typically it clashes with rugby union.

"We've made a number of attempts to get a competition going.

"Our best opportunity for young people is outside of the rugby window.

"So we're looking at the spring window - August, September and a little bit of October before the summer codes kick in."


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