No matter if you know it as the NRL 9s, the Auckland 9s, the Auckland Nines, the Perth Nines or simply the NRL Nines, it is the leading Rugby League 9s tournament in the world and in the few short years the tournament has taken place, it has quickly become the biggest pre-season tournament in world Rugby.
The tournament features all of the NRL teams and includes many of the world’s top stars with all of the teams playing numerous matches across the 2 days of tournament.
The 16 teams are split into 4 groups of 4 teams where they play against the other teams in their group. The top 2 teams from each league then feature in a knockout tournament to determine who is the winner of that year’s tournament.
There are also 3 women’s international matches that take place over the 2 days in what has quickly become a festival of Rugby League.
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For those unfamiliar with the 9s and Rugby League Nines in general, it is a cut down version of the sport in a similar style to 20/20 cricket, as in it is all about pace and excitement and held over a short game length.
The biggest differences to the 13 man 80 minutes’ game are:
- Matches are split into 2 nine minute halves
- Each side name 9 players, with 5 unlimited interchange players
- Scrums are only when there is a double knock on
- No video ref and just 1 on field ref
- Tap restart after a 40/20
- 5 points for a try scored under the posts
- 2 points for a drop goal
- Drop kick to restart after a try scored
- 5 tackles in a set
The NRL Nines started life in 2014 as a new pre-season tournament to show case the skills of the players, to build up the excitement for the new NRL season and also to build up the form and fitness of players, all in a much more relaxed and entertaining fashion than pre-season friendlies- or trials as the locals would call then down under.
Over the years the tournament has developed into a must watch event in its own right and something to look forward to as the build to the new season takes place.
One of the big boost for the tournament has been how seriously the teams have taken it as whilst some superstars sit it out, you will be able to witness the top players ply their trade but it has also become a tournament where youngsters can really make a name for themselves and show that they belong playing against the best in the first team.
It has also become somewhere for retired players to make a nostalgia filled comeback and again, they have taken that seriously and make sure that they are in good fitness to actually provide good entertainment for fans.
The inaugural event, held in 2014, was hosted by the city of Auckland with the matches taking place at Eden Park.
The competition started life with the sixteen NRL teams been placed in 4 groups, with these been named form 2015 in traditional Maori names after a public poll.
The names chosen were Rangitoto, Waiheke, Piha and Hunua Ranges.
From the 2015 edition, the competition also featured the Kiwi Ferns (the New Zealand national women’s team) and the Jillaroos (the Australian national team), playing in a 3 match series.
In 2020, the event moved to the Western Australian city of Perth as the host event for the city new Perth Oval Stadium.
2014– The first NRL 9s saw an all Queensland final as the North Queensland Cowboys defeated the Brisbane Broncos 16 points to 7.
2015– This year saw an all Sydney final as the South Sydney Rabbitohs defeated the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks by 18 points to 14.
2016– The 2016 edition saw local favourites, the New Zealand Warriors reach the final for the first time but they lost to the Parramatta Eels by 22 points to 4, although the Eels would go in to be stripped of the title due to salary cap breaches.
2017– The final Auckland edition of the tournament saw the Sydney Roosters win their first tile as they defeat the Penrith Panthers by 10 points to 8 in the closest final to date.
2020– The tournament returned with a bang and with a new location as all of the action took place in Perth and just as the North Queensland Cowboys won the first ever edition, they backed that up by winning the first tournament at the Perth Oval as they defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons by 23 points to 14.
NRL Nines Women’s Tournament
The 2015, 2016 and 2017 featured the national team of Australia playing against each other in a 3 games series.
2015– The New Zealand Kiwi Ferns defeated the Australian Jillaroos by 2 matches to 1.
2016– The New Zealand Kiwi Ferns once again defeated the Australian Jillaroos by 2 games to 1.
2017– The Australian Jillaroos picked up their first win by defeating the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns in a whitewash 3-0 victory.
For the 2020 edition of the NRL 9s, the teams of the NRL Women’s Premiership featured in the tournament in a similar style to the men’s.
2020– The St George Illawarra Dragons won the inaugural women’s event by defeating the Brisbane Broncos by 28 points to 4.
As a tournament that only takes place at the most once a year, it can be difficult to find bookmakers that offers odds, markets, and coupons on the action but the best NRL bookies out there will do.
Some will feature just the basic markets such as which teams will win their groups and which teams will win the event outright but some do offer odds on many aspects of the event including favourites such as top tryscorer, match winners and the player of the tournament.
If a bookie does offer odds on the event, the markets will normally not be shown until the week or 2 before the tournament starts and any match markets will likely not appear until the day of the match or the day before.
This is because of the fluid nature of the event and the fact that until gameday, nobody is quite sure of what the teams will look like as there is no warmup event for the tournament and no other action of a similar level to build upon.