You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Nines here to stay: IRL boss backs format

Nines tournaments should be springing up before the next scheduled World Cup in 2023 because the game's governing body says they are needed to attract more sports fans to rugby league.

IRL (International Rugby League) chief executive Nigel Wood echoed the sentiments of leading NRL coach Wayne Bennett, who was in charge of the England men's team at the weekend tournament in Sydney, saying people connected with league needed to show faith in the Nines.

"The concept of Nines is something the sport generally needs to embrace and there may be different ways to deliver competition," Woods said as the 2019 event for 12 countries drew to a close at Bankwest Stadium.

"It might not necessarily have to always involve the elite players. But it's a concept that cannot be neglected – it is too important to us."

The NRL is again staging a club Nines tournament in Perth next February. Woods said Super League might want to consider something along the same lines.

"That’s for them to decide. I think it’s an opportunity to take the sport into countries that aren’t necessarily familiar with the 13-a-side game and the complexities of the 13s game.

Match Highlights: Kangaroos v Kiwis

"It provides players with more opportunities as well.”

Even for a country like Australia, who is very familiar with league, the crowds were perhaps a little disappointing with 12,528 on Friday night and 15,684 on Saturday when Bankwest's capacity is 30,000.

"I wasn’t quite sure what to expect really," Wood said, when asked if he was happy with attendance figures across the two days.

"In this kind of event with pass-ins and pass-outs you’re never actually sure how many people actually turned up during the day. All I know is that the people are here have really enjoyed it. It’s a tribute to the athletes and I think it’s a very exciting time for the sport.

Match Highlights: Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns

"Nines is a very important aspect for the sport generally. This is the first in a two-cycle World Cup.

"We’ve got an agreement to stage it again in 2023 but I think it’s capable of even more than that. Frankly we’ve seen it is popular and how it can present the game in a slightly different way.

"I think the high turnover of matches, the skills on show, makes it a really exciting innovation. We’ve used Nines before but it remains one of our best opportunities to take the sport to more countries."

The 2023 venue is not yet known. The 2021 13-a-side World Cup is in the UK.

Woods said the Nines needed a warm, temperate climate if the World Cup remained in the international window of October – after the NRL and SL domestic competitions have ended.

"North America is a possibility, the Middles East is a possibility, and certainly Europe," he said.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.