The NRL has finally confirmed the league’s worst kept secret — The Redcliffe Dolphins will become the league’s next franchise.
The ARL Commission held final meetings on Wednesday morning to confirm The Dolphins had been granted a licence to become the 17th team to enter the competition from 2023.
It means the league will expand to a 26-round competition with every team continuing to play 24 games in the regular season.
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The total number of regular season games will increase from 192 to 204 with teams receiving two byes.
“Today is an exciting moment in the history of our game,” ARL boss Peter V’landys said in a statement.
“On behalf of the Commission I would like to congratulate The Dolphins on being granted the 17th licence.
“I would also like to acknowledge and thank the other bid teams for the work they put into their submissions. All three bids were of the highest calibre and highlight the strength of rugby league in Queensland.”
Mr V’landys said expanding the game in Queensland was vital to the long-term growth of the sport.
“Rugby League is part of Queensland’s DNA and to have 4 teams based in Queensland will further strengthen our game as the No.1 sport in the State,’’ he said.
“The key to long term success is growth. By growing the NRL Telstra Premiership we create more fans, encourage more participants and increase commercial investment in rugby league.
“Expansion is also a really important part of our participation strategy. It will be a condition of the licence that the Dolphins spend $2 million every year on participation and growing the women’s game in Southeast Queensland. Our focus over the next year is revitalising our participation strategy and The Dolphins will be an important part of that in Queensland.”