NRL: No room for cheerleaders at Canberra Raiders

Raiderettes prepare to perform prior to the Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at GIO Stadium. Photo/Getty Images
Raiderettes prepare to perform prior to the Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at GIO Stadium. Photo/Getty Images

Canberra have become the latest NRL club to remove cheerleaders from their match-day entertainment schedule.

The Raiders have not renewed their contract with the external company that has provided cheerleaders for the past three years.

Local school dancers will instead perform for Raiders fans at GIO Stadium, as part of a dance competition during the 2017 season.

It's about 10 years since South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe moved to replace his club's cheerleaders with drummers to appease spectators, who were "uncomfortable" with scantily-clad female dancers.

In 2013, Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle re-shaped the focus of the Bulldogs cheerleading programme on charity and fan engagement, and traditional outfits were replaced. '

But the Raiders insist their decision was not made for similar reasons.

"This is not about the cheerleaders, it's about a point of difference," Canberra commercial boss Jason Mathie told Fairfax Media.

"The critical thing for us was trying to expose our match day to a greater number of people and the dance competition [gives] 20-50 people each week the opportunity to perform on-field."

Last month, cheerleading was awarded provisional recognition as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, meaning after three years, administrators can apply for it to become part of the Olympic Games.

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