'Rugby league rebooted': 20/40 rule to debut at World 9s

International rugby league will be "rebooted" with key rules – including the first trial of a 20/40 kick – to be introduced at October's World 9s tournament.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg was joined by a host of the game's entertainers on Monday as the "festival of rugby league" returns for the first time in 22 years across October 18-19 at Parramatta's Bankwest Stadium.

As well as the traditional 40/20 kicks that are rewarded with an attacking scrum feed, teams will be able to reap the same result with a long kick from inside their own 20-metre line if it bounces out beyond their opponent's 40.

The notion was first raised at last November's NRL competition committee meeting and could potentially be introduced to the NRL proper if received well at the 9s tournament. 

If the 20-40 rule is something that really takes hold; players enjoy it, fans enjoy it and it's easy to officiate then I think we'd look at it for sure," Greenberg said in Parramatta.

"It's something I'm sure the competition committee could look at. I think it's got a particular variable here for Nines footy. The concept is if you're pinned in your own 20 and you've got the ability to take a risk, you get a significant reward. 

"It will be interesting to see how much of it is utilised and the preparedness of the players to take those risks."

As well as the new 20/40 rule, teams will be able to score five-point tries in the "bonus zone" under the posts, with 25-second shot clocks and golden tries to decide drawn games also on the agenda.

The rule changes were announced along with the groups for both women's and men's competitions on Monday.

Heavyweights Australia and New Zealand have been drawn together in Group A of the men's tournament, while England leads Group B with Pacific Nations Tonga, Fiji and Samoa heading up Group C.

The two highest-placed sides of Group A will progress to the tournament's semi-finals, where they will face the winners of groups B and C.

The women's final will be contested by the two highest placed sides following the group stage contest by Australia, New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea.

With the likes of Josh Addo-Carr, Kalyn Ponga (Australia), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand) and Anthony Milford (Samoa) potential starters, Greenberg hailed the tournament as a new format to showcase the best of the international game.

"The World Cup Nines will feature the most exciting players to watch in the game, representing their nations and their cultures," Greenberg said.

"It will be a festival of rugby league and the fast-paced, frenetic nature of Nines will be fantastic to watch.

"This is rugby league rebooted – a unique and exciting way to showcase our wonderful athletes."

The NSW Government has secured the tournament's return for 2019 with the last edition held back in 1997 under the Super League banner.

Excitement is building ahead of the World 9s in October.
Excitement is building ahead of the World 9s in October. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

NSW Minister for Sport John Sidoti dubbed Bankwest Stadium as the perfect venue for the post-season tournament with a strong supporter turnout predicted.

"What a moment for Bankwest Stadium to host this world-first event, and we expect more than 50,000 fans will be on the ground to enjoy it," Sidoti said.

Two-day passes for the event go on sale Monday for club members with the general public able to purchase them from Wednesday.

Key rules for World 9s

  • A Bonus Zone, giving teams the chance for a five-point try, will be included
  • A 20-40 rule, in addition to the 40-20
  • A 25-second shot clock on drop-kicked conversions
  • Golden Try in the event of a match drawn after regulation time.

 

Be there for all the action of the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019: NRL Tickets