State of Origin football will make its debut in Newcastle next year when Game two of the 2024 Women’s series is played at McDonald Jones Stadium on 6 June.
The Newcastle clash was announced by the NRL on 13 November as part of an expanded three-match series, which will kick off at Suncorp Stadium on 16 May.
Townsville will host the third match and potential decider for the Women’s series on 27 June, with the matches expected to draw significant crowds of local and travelling fans to the opposing states.
The announcement follows a push by Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill to bring the women’s representative series to the regional heartlands of rugby league.
The mayors wrote a joint letter to the Australian Rugby League Commission in June calling for regular hosting rights for the top tier competition. This was backed up by a Lord Mayoral Minute in July and advocacy from City of Newcastle and the NSW Government.
Cr Nelmes welcomed the NRL’s announcement, which she said was a coup for the city’s sports fans and would deliver an economic boost for local businesses.
“Both Newcastle and Townsville have rich rugby league histories and passionate fan bases, making them the perfect host cities for next year’s Women’s State of Origin series,” Cr Nelmes said.
“With support from Venues NSW and McDonald Jones Stadium, we knew that Newcastle was the right location to host a State of Origin match.
“Novocastrians will welcome today’s announcement and come out in force for the match, having demonstrated the strength of their support for our own premiership-winning Newcastle Knights WNRL team with record-breaking crowds last season.
“City of Newcastle is committed to attracting and hosting major events as a key economic and tourism driver for our region.
“Events deliver both an immediate and ongoing benefit for the community and our visitor economy, help to create local jobs and support local industries while continuing to highlight our city as an amazing tourism and events destination.”
This year’s second Women’s State of Origin match attracted a record crowd of more than 18,000 footy fans to Townsville, while over 12,500 people packed the stands for Newcastle’s semi-final match against Brisbane, setting a new NRLW record for a standalone women’s fixture.