PDRL is a modified version of Rugby League for those with a Physical Disability that are ambulant who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play the game they love.
This version does not shy away from the impact, collision and physicality of Rugby League but with full contact, partial contact and touch elements, the game safely caters for a wide spectrum of physical impairments that impact a person's mobility, functioning or dexterity. That includes amputees, or those with cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders, limb deficiencies and acquired brain injuries amongst many others. The rules are genuinely all-inclusive allowing 2 able bodied players per team and both male and female players in local competition, and with Physically Disabled players only in International Competition.
Unlike Pavlova, Crowded House or Phar Lap, PDRL can genuinely lay claim to being Australian. It was conceived back in 2010 when George Tonna, Paralympian for Australia ‘7-a-side’ Football, had the idea of setting up a modified form of Rugby League for people with all types of physical disability.
Within weeks, the New South Wales Physical Disability Rugby League (NSWPDRL) started its first Rugby League competition for those with physical disabilities. Within a short period, the concept had attracted enough attention to form a registered Association, affiliated with NSW Rugby League. It now has the support of the NRL and several of its clubs with West Tigers, Manly Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters all having PDRL clubs as well as Newtown Jets. The Gold Coast Titans have also launched their PDRL team.
In New Zealand, initial efforts to form a team date to 2014. PDRLNZ was launched in 2015 and incorporated in August 2017. Since then we’ve strengthened our governance, hosted the inaugural PDRL 9’s and have twice competed internationally, providing a sustainable platform for the sport to continue to grow.
The game is now played in Australia, New Zealand and England with the UK PDRL forming in 2018; growing quickly to 4 teams linked to super league clubs.