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One of rugby league’s most popular school carnivals will break new ground in 2021 with a girls’ competition to be included for the first time.

The Confraternity Carnival, sponsored by CQ University, will welcome nine teams from across Queensland into the historic girls’ competition for this year’s contest at Iona College at Lindum. The carnival returns later this month after a break last year due to COVID.

The schools will join the 48 teams, mostly from Catholic schools, that participate in the boys’ Confraternity Carnival. The carnival, which had been played every year since 1980 until last year’s break, is run by Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Rugby League.

The participating schools for the girls’ competition are Clairvaux MacKillop College (Upper Mount Gravatt), Trinity College (Beenleigh), Shalom Catholic College (Bundaberg), St Joseph’s College (Toowoomba), Emmaus College (Rockhampton), The Cathedral College (Rockhampton), St Patrick’s College (Mackay), Marymount College (Burleigh Waters) and Southern Cross Catholic College (Townsville).

The competition is a positive sign for the development of girls’ rugby league in Catholic and independent schools. In the 2019 Karyn Murphy Cup – a 233 team state-wide girls’ competition – all nine school finalists across the three age divisions were from state schools.

The new Confraternity Carnival girls’ competition is not dissimilar to the inaugural boys’ competition, which began with six teams in 1980 before growing to become one of the best-known schoolboy rugby league nurseries in the country.

The 40th Confraternity Carnival in Bundaberg in 2019 drew more than 1000 boys from schools across Queensland.

Nine players from the Queensland State of Origin squad for next Wednesday’s series opener were former Confraternity Carnival players.

QISSRL president and Padua College Rector Peter Elmore said the Confraternity Carnival brought together teams united by a Christian background. He said the girls’ competition would adopt the same values that have become part of the Confro culture.

“The Carnival has grown in size since it was first contested in 1980 but it remains an event in which sportsmanship, respect and fellowship are most highly valued,” Mr Elmore said.

“We are proud of the many Catholic schools and players who have contested this event over the decades. While there is a great list of former Confro players who have gone on to the game’s highest levels, we’re just as proud of the manner in which the Carnival is played.

“It’s an historic year for the Confraternity Carnival with the girls’ competition creating a new level of excitement.”

How the inaugural Confraternity Carnival girls’ competition will work
The teams will each play two games on Monday 28 June and two games on Tuesday 29 June. Those results will determine the order for Thursday’s finals, during which each team will play one match. The grand final will be held at 1pm on Thursday 1 July.

The carnival this year will take place from Monday 28 June to Friday 2July. All matches will be livestreamed via QISSRL.

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