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Grassroots players

Rugby league has always relied upon the support of ordinary Australians to keep it alive. People play rugby league across Australia at all sorts of levels, from the amateur to the professional, in all sorts of places, from big city stadiums to small town parks.

While it has changed significantly in the past 100 years, rugby league has remained, at its base, a 'grass roots' game with widespread participation and a strong supporter base.

Members of the Redfern All Blacks in action during a game.

Aussie All Blacks

In the 1970s the Redfern All Blacks Junior Rugby League Football Club, affiliated with South Sydney, was formed to provide a platform for developing young players. The club now has 11 teams and participates in the annual New South Wales Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout competition.

Right: Redfern All Blacks in action 1979. Courtesy: The Michael Riley Foundation and VISCOPY Australia.

Veronica White being tackled by two opponents.

A woman's game

Veronica White learned how to play rugby league with her four older brothers in her backyard.

From 1994, White has represented Brothers Ipswich, Queensland and Australia.

The Veronica White Award, currently held by the Brisbane and Districts Women's Rugby League Association, has been awarded to the Queensland state champions since 2006.

Left: Veronica White is tackled during the second Test between Australia and Great Britain, ANZ Stadium 2002. Photo: Colin Whelan Action Photographics.

Coogee Dolphins players standing side by side on the field.

Coogee Dolphins

When suicide bombers struck the island resort of Bali on 12 October 2002, the Coogee Dolphins A-grade team lost six players.

Adding to strong displays of solidarity and support from the rugby league community, recently retired high-profile players Matthew Johns and Brett Mullins played for the club when it entered a team in the World Sevens Series.

Right: Coogee Dolphins players observe two minutes' silence before a World Rugby League Sevens tournament match 2003. Photo: Colin Whelan Action Photographics.

A group of players from St Gregory's College hugging each other.

High school rookies

St Gregory's College, Campbelltown, New South Wales, has been dubbed 'the nursery of the National Rugby League' due to the number of ex-students going on to play first-grade football.

The school has won more Australian Secondary Schoolboys Championships than any other.

Left: Players from St Gregorys celebrate after an Arrive Alive Cup win 2004. Photo: Colin Whelan Action Photographics.

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