Slater, the NRL’s General Manager of Elite Women’s Programs, was recognised by the NSW government for her efforts in grassroots women’s rugby league on Wednesday night during the inaugural Her Sport Her Way Awards. She was described by Acting NSW Sport Minister Geoff Lee as the “driving force” behind the success of women’s elite rugby league.
“When you have more diversity in decision making and in conversation, there’s a direct benefit to the bottom line and there’s a direct benefit to culture,” Slater said.
“The women’s game starts a conversation that is more broad and enables all women to see what the opportunities are within the game on and off the field.”
Slater came into the role in 2018 as general manager of the women’s elite game after four managerial roles across four years with the NRL.
At the time, Slater was the only dedicated, full-time staff member in women’s elite rugby league in a year which saw the launch of the NRLW competition, and women’s State of Origin.
“When we talk about gender equality, we talk a lot about role modelling and what players are doing at the moment is role modelling for future generations. And I think that’s equally important in all aspects of the game,” Slater said.
When you have more diversity in decision making and in conversation, there’s a direct benefit to the bottom line and there’s a direct benefit to culture.
NRLW boss Tiffany Slater
Now focused heavily on expanding the women’s game, Slater says the NRLW is almost a “blank page” for the future with just the four original clubs signing on once again for its third season.
“We’ve definitely learned a lot over the past two years, in particular, introducing the national competition and elevating State of Origin,” Slater said. “We’re definitely talking a lot with the commission around what expansion of the on-field game looks like.”
Slater oversaw an 18.4 per cent spike in female participation in rugby league in 2019, while overall participation grew by 1.23 per cent. The number of women playing rugby league has now more than doubled since 2015.
In 2019, more people watched Women’s State of Origin than any other women’s sports program.
“Tiffany can be proud of the continued rapid growth of women’s elite rugby league in NSW and indeed across the country,” Acting NSW Sports Minister Geoff Lee said. “It’s a great moment for the NSW Government to recognise Tiffany’s achievements because they are having a direct impact on grassroots rugby league, as girls continue to take up the sport and aspire to be elite athletes.”
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.