NRL Auckland Nines
|Number of teams||
Australia Jillaroos (2017)
New Zealand Kiwi Ferns|
Fox Sports (AU)|
Sky Sports (NZ)
The NRL Auckland Nines (known as the Downer NRL Auckland Nines due to sponsorship) was a rugby league nines competition staged by the National Rugby League and played annually prior to the beginning of the NRL season proper from 2014 until 2017. The inaugural five player tournament was staged between 15 – 16 February 2014, with subsequent tournaments being played earlier in the year normally at the end of January. The NRL signed a five-year agreement for Auckland's Eden Park to host the tournament with the 2014 event being the first.
Two national women's teams compete in one section of the tournament and sixteen NRL club men's teams compete in the other. Each of the men's squad must include at least 12 of their top 25 players in their squad, and at least one marquee player. The winner of the men's tournament received AUD$500,000 with a total prize pool of AUD$2,250,000. In the first four editions, the competition has had eight different finalists and four different winners, though the 2016 title was later stripped from the Parramatta Eels for breaching the salary cap.
Since 2015 the Kiwiferns and the Jillaroos also competed in a three-game series, with the Kiwiferns winning the series 2-1. These games are played during the final stages of the men's tournament and allow the male players more of a break between their games while providing a broader tournament. Also in 2015, the pools were given traditional Maori names that were chosen by a public vote and were: Rangitoto, Waiheke, Piha and Hunua Ranges.
The 2018 edition of the Auckland Nines series was cancelled, with the NRL citing a packed schedule due to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. The series was due to return in 2019, but was again omitted from the calendar.
There are a number of rule variations that are implemented to ensure the games are faster and to ensure fewer delays and stoppages.
The major rule changes that differ from regular NRL games are:
- Two nine-minute halves with a two-minute half time period.
- Nine players a side with five unlimited interchange players (six interchanges in 2014).
- Scrums are only formed after a double knock on, with attacking teams electing which side to feed the ball.
- No video referee, with one on-field referee, two touch judges and two in-goal judges.
- Five minute golden try period in qualifying rounds with the match deemed a draw if there is no score, while unlimited golden try for the finals.
- A tap restart takes place after a 40/20.
- Five points for a try scored in the bonus zone under the posts, with two point drop kick conversion attempts.
- The scoring team will have a drop-kick kick-off at the half way mark to restart play.
- Three minute sin bins (Five in 2014).
- Five tackles in a set.
Results - Men
|2014||North Queensland Cowboys||16 – 7||Brisbane Broncos|
|2015||South Sydney Rabbitohs||18 – 14
(After Extra Time)
|2016||Parramatta Eels *stripped ||22 – 4||New Zealand Warriors|
|2017||Sydney Roosters||10 – 8||Penrith Panthers|
Results - Women
Each year since the 2015 tournament, the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns and the Australia Jillaroos have played a three match series.
|Women's series results|
|2015||New Zealand Kiwi Ferns||2||1||0|
|2016||New Zealand Kiwi Ferns||2||1||0|
- "Dick Smith to sponsor Auckland Nines". nrl.com. National Rugby League. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "NRL Auckland Nines Tournament launched". nrl.com. National Rugby League. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- Deane, Steve. "NRL: Auckland set for five years of NRL Nines". nzherald.co.nz. APN New Zealand Limited. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines draw revealed". nrl.com. National Rugby League. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "NRL suspends Auckland Nines and All Stars events for 2018". foxsports.com.au. Fox Sports Australia. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- Nines scrapped for 2019 - and may never return Sydney Morning Herald 18 August 2018
- Chammas, Michael. "NRL to trial experimental rules for Auckland Nines". nrl.com. NRL. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- "Parramatta Eels stripped of Auckland Nines title but Warriors don't benefit". stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
- "Parramatta salary cap preliminary findings". nrl.com.au. ARLC. Retrieved 3 May 2015.