JUNIOR representative football carnivals are now being called “participation” events – where no scores are kept and no awards are given – under new bans imposed by Queensland Rugby League but described as “absurd” by local organisers.

The renowned annual Zone 5 junior rugby league carnivals are underway this month, involving sixteen Under-10 and Under-12 teams spanning from Brisbane’s bayside to outback Cunnamulla.

Past players include Darren Lockyer, Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva, according to an online petition created in protest of new rules now affecting the event format.

The Zone 5 carnivals have been running since 1969 and, until this year, crowned a winning team and recognised individual excellence with trophies for ‘best and fairest’, ‘best forward’ and ‘best back’ from each team and overall.

Now, not only have the awards been sent to the sin bin, but organisers are being ordered by QRL not to keep scores of the games, in a controversial attempt to avoid disheartening participants.

“It’s crap,” one of the young players told the Caller on the second day of the Under-12 carnival.

Several parents and even the canteen ladies said they were bewildered about the fact that the on-field score for each game had suddenly become a taboo subject.

“It’s ridiculous. Every kid gets a ribbon,” one parent said sarcastically.

“These carnivals have been happening for fifty years with no problem. I can’t see why they (QRL) decided they’ve got to change it.”

Zone 5 junior rugby league players all receive a medallion for participating in the carnival.

QRL central division manager Rob Crowe said the decision to ban points and awards was guided by “studies overseas” which focussed on why some children chose not to play rugby league.

“We call them participation carnivals,” Mr Crowe said.

“It’s under what the QRL calls the Player Development Framework, where kids of those age groups are there to play for the fun and participation, rather than being pressured to win and be the best and get trophies.

“The studies overseas have shown that whist some kids don’t mind it, we’ve got kids dropping out of the game because they’d rather go and play for fun in that age group.

“Our numbers aren’t improving in the younger age groups. They’re pretty steady, but they’re not improving, and that’s the major feedback.”

Players huddle at half time at the Under-12 Zone 5 junior rugby league carnival in Wandoan.

Clifton-based junior rugby league administrator Ian Brady has been president of the Under-10 carnival organising committee for 14 years.

He said many local rugby league officials in the region were flabbergasted about the new rules, and that there were plans to form a steering committee to challenge QRL’s decisions and “dish it out to them”.

“It’s a farce” Mr Brady said.

“It’s absurd to think you can’t award and recognise kids in junior rugby league for their achievements.

“Supposedly, giving these awards diminishes the mental well-being of the kids who didn’t win or get awards, but I think that’s a long bow to say the least.

“How do you pick up a kid and try get them to work harder in a team environment when they can’t see if they’re in front or behind? Kids are not dumb. They know when they’ve won a game of football.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have your say in the comments section below.

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  1. This is what happens when you let the PC brigade have any say , and to let them push their views on the majority .The woke pushers can’t tell the difference between boys and girls so want to desex them all .

  2. On the Gold Coast U13 and U14 Div 2&3 no longer will have finals. Just a carnival at the end of the season. Participation is the new buzz word, could there be a worse way of expressing to a kid that you are not good enough, than by making them play a nothing carnival at the end of the season?

  3. Would be interesting to see what countries overseas that these studies were carried out in . I think it’s some uni grad now working for Qr or Nr thats comes up with these wonderful ideas that has never played the game and now is wrecking the game. I’ve been involved with football for 50 odd years and over the last 5 years the idiots running the have fu–ed it ,the hardest thing i have done is to give it away and i feel sorry for the kids in the future that will have NOTHING to play for.

  4. what a load of shit keep your overseas studies that is not how we play foot ball here watch out because a lot of kids male & female will go & play another sport then the nrl will have no players

  5. Having just been to the U/35kg carnival; the kids know. The final buzzer sounds and one team raises their hands in celebration and the other know they have been beaten. But here’s the wildest thing – the kids are all ok! They go back to swapping badges and cheering each other on in the next game.

    Let the kids win. Let them lose. Let them learn to be humble in victory and reflective in defeat. Let them learn that life goes on and they will be ok. Let’s prepare them for the real world and not some artificial reality.

    Perhaps the best thing that the QRL and other organisations like them can do for the young generations is to help install resilience in kids.

  6. What a load of shit, & what has overseas studies got to do with our children in Australia. These carnivals been running for over 50 years. It’s about the boys n girls in our country qld communities been able to attend n play the game of Rugby League. As most people know some of our best players come from these areas. Dale Shearer, Darren Locker.. What’s the QRL won’t No rugby league players of the future.

  7. My son has just played in the under 43kg carnival for the past week in Wondoan. The participants in these carnivals carry bumps, bruises and sometimes slight injuries through the week to participate day in day out. I’m all for every child receiving a participation award however at the end of the day there is always a winner and always a loser in each and every game and the players know if they win or lose.

    In all games watched over the week there is a will to win, a desire to win the game. The players want to win and play hard to do so. Taking away the score does nothing as win or lose the players know the outcome.

    My son loves the game. Win lose or draw he wants to play football and that’s where the future of rugby league is, in all these young men and woman who have the desire to play and win.

    Maybe the QRL needs to put more effort into building the game in other ways, such as what comp can all these young talented players strive to be in next year as the options seem somewhat limited.

    Winners are grinners and Losers live to fight another day. Always have and always will.

  8. QRL are a joke and laughing stick of Rugby League. This thing is this little boys club are a bunch of useless cronies that were shut players them selves.
    These guys think they know everything and will not listen.
    This is why QRL are in the position they are in now wit SOO and the 3 useless teams they have in the NRL. They have bought it in them selves.

    They need to be outed and follow what have work for many years, building though resilient kids that can handle the bad and the good. Sorry if you can’t handle the game don’t play, numbers don’t mean the game is in the right direction.

  9. Check out the Warwick East State School Facebook page and see what Education Queensland have painted on a staircase that hundreds of primary school children use five days a week and then tell me again why we can’t have scores and awards in junior rugby league.

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