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Rugby league’s famous Confraternity Carnival will share the State of Origin stage in June when the girls’ final is played as a curtain-raiser to the women’s showdown between Queensland and New South Wales in Townsville.

Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Rugby League, which has run the Confraternity Carnival since 1980, has worked with the National Rugby League to confirm the girls’ final will be played at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Thursday 27 June.

It will be part of the 44th Confraternity Carnival, sponsored by CQ University, which will be held in Townsville from 23-28 June this year. More than 200 schoolgirls and more than 1000 schoolboys, from Catholic and Independent Schools across Queensland, will take part.

This will be the fourth girls’ carnival at “Confro” with Marymount College (2022) and The Cathedral College (2023, pictured) claiming the first two titles after the inaugural event ended early in 2021 due to Covid lockdowns.

The carnival’s reputation as one of rugby league’s best nurseries continues to grow. The carnival reached Suncorp Stadium for the first time last year when a boys’ match was played as a curtain-raiser to a Broncos NRL match.

“This is exciting for Confraternity Carnival because we’ve been proud to see so many of our former players reach State of Origin level over the decades since 1980,” QISSRL President Peter Elmore said.

“It seems a natural fit to have a Carnival match before an Origin clash, particularly the girls’ final which has added another dimension to our gathering since 2021.

“And it will be exciting to play this game in Townsville because regional schools have such a strong history in this carnival.”

Confro is yet to produce a women’s Origin player for Queensland however the carnival has produced some of the state’s best men’s Origin representatives.

And there is a strong Townsville connection with Johnathan Thurston (St Mary’s College, Toowoomba), Valentine Holmes and Coen Hess (Ignatius Park College) among the North Queensland Cowboys’ contingent to represent their state after playing Confro.

Holmes was among seven Confraternity Carnival graduates to feature in the Maroons squad last year alongside Daly Cherry-Evans (St Patrick’s College, Mackay), Cameron Munster (Emmaus College, Rockhampton), Ben Hunt and Harry Grant (St Brendan’s College, Yeppoon), Lindsay Collins (Padua College, Kedron) and Xavier Coates (Marymount College, Burleigh Waters).

Organised by Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Rugby League, Confraternity Carnival was held every year from 1980 until 2019. In 2020, the carnival could not be held because of Covid-19. In 2021, Confro had reached its quarter-final stages at Iona College when a Covid-19 lockdown in southeast Queensland forced its immediate cancellation.

Mr Elmore said Confraternity Carnival brought together teams united by a Christian background.

“The Carnival has grown in size since it was first contested in 1980 but it remains an event in which fair play, respect and fellowship are most highly valued,” Mr Elmore said. “We are proud of the many schools and players who have contested this event over the decades. While there is a great list of former Confraternity players who have gone on to the game’s highest levels, we’re always just as proud of the manner in which the Carnival is played.”

This will be the first Confraternity Carnival held in Townsville since 2013.

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