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The NSWRL is pleased to announce the formation of the Hunter Junior Rugby League Association (JRLA) for the 2022 season following a unanimous vote by the Newcastle JRLA and Maitland and District JRLA to form one governing body for the region.

The move will make the Hunter JRLA the state’s second-largest catchment area behind Penrith, with a combined 6,656 participants (Newcastle JRLA 4,340 and Maitland and District JRLA 2,316) which could assist with resources, funding and sponsorship for the region.

It will only include Under 6s to Under 18s competitions with senior competitions to remain the same. The Hunter JRLA was officially passed unanimously at the Annual General Meetings of both associations on Wednesday night following an electronic voting process.

“The Hunter Junior Rugby League Association will unify the region and have a positive impact on the way competitions are administered here,” NSWRL Head of Football Robert Lowrie said.

“I want to thank the Newcastle JRLA, Maitland and District JRLA and all clubs for their overwhelming support as this is the best result for all participants in the region.

“It will assist them with their Rugby League journey and give them every opportunity they deserve, whether that’s just playing for fun or pursuing a professional career.”

The Hunter JRLA falls in line with the NSWRL’s One State Strategic Plan, which created six new zones across the state to streamline governance and administration, further improve participation and competition opportunities, and local rules consistency and competition structures, and lower costs.

The Hunter Junior Rugby League Association, which will comprise 22 clubs from Newcastle JRLA and 10 clubs from Maitland and District JRLA, has also been backed by the NRL’s Newcastle Knights as it creates a clearer alignment between local competitions and elite pathways.

Both the Newcastle JRLA and Maitland and District JRLA will retain their identities through local junior development programs and squads with clubs remaining in the voting college of their current association.

All life members of the current associations will become life members of the Hunter JRLA with the committee structure to consist of two members each from the Newcastle JRLA and Maitland and District JRLA, two independent members and an independent chairman.

The initial members from Newcastle JRLA and Maitland and District JRLA will be made up from current committee members to ensure a smooth transition.

The Hunter Region has produced some of the greatest Rugby League talent the game has ever seen including Rugby League Immortals and True Blues Andrew Johns and Clive Churchill, and True Blues Eddie Lumsden, Les Johns and John Sattler.