I'm an unabashed fan of the NRL Nines as a concept. It's fast, free-flowing, easy to watch, entertaining and draws in new markets which rugby league is going to need if it wants to expand.

The initial version of the Nines they unleashed in Auckland was a relative success. Eden Park, the home of New Zealand rugby, was packed out for two days straight of rugby league action and it drew plenty of viewers.

It provided a way to satiate rugby league fans during the summer months on a grander scale than the usual trial matches which rarely feature any of the game's stars and are usually used to give a few kids a crack alongside some players pushing for first grade selection.

Those trials are also rarely televised or broadcast and fans don't really care about it either.

The merits of the Nines and the impact of an intense tournament can be debated by all and sundry, but the bottom line is, they're here, might as well enjoy some rugby league. There's nothing else really on sport wise given the BBL season has come to an end and the Australian Open has been run and won weeks ago.

But the NRL has absolutely butchered the scheduling of the Perth Nines.

Instead of hosting it across a Saturday/Sunday, providing plenty of families the chance to get out to all of the games, they've opted for a condensed schedule across Friday night and Saturday.

This proposes a few issues. First, the early games start at 4.30pm local time, meaning it's unlikely locals are going to get down to at least the first 90 minutes of games.

This decision was taken in order to air early games in prime time on the east coast, specifically Sydney.

The only problem with that is that the final game won't air until 10.30pm, well out of prime time in Sydney.

The biggest issue is that the NRL has decided they'll keep the traditional four pools of four teams. But each team will only be playing two games, meaning every team in every pool won't play each other, leading to what could be an unfair and/or lopsided KO round.

This is due to the simple fact that not every team has sent their strongest squad to the Nines. Teams like Melbourne and the Roosters have withheld some of their biggest stars, while teams like Eels have sent the strongest squads they can.

Rugby Sevens has shown that holding tournaments on Saturday/Sunday provides the best chance of stadiums being filled along with solid TV ratings. A tournament held over two full days also means every team can play three matches in their pool round.

If the NRL wants this to be successful then they need to treat it as a proper competition that can be played across a weekend. Not some toy than can continually tinker with, providing no continuity to fans and throwing up uneven draws or lopsided contests.

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Replies

  • They couldn't organise a piss up in brewery 

  • i thought they could of put a team from Fiji, PNG etc in there too, ive heard theyre trying to put a PNG team in the lower grades. what a good opportunity to see some talent coming out of places like this, gives their players exposure to NRL

    • Darren, PNG have had a team in the QLD Cup for several years, they won it a few years ago. Fiji are going to be admitted into the NSW Cup, I think maybe next year.

       

      • Sorry Brissy, it mustve been Fiji i heard about. i dont get to see much of the Qld cup.

        • All good mate, just letting you know. It's been a great thing for PNG and when they won the Q Cup they went wild. 

    • Absolutely! They have missed a real opportunity to showcase the talent we have in Australiasia. It would make for a real spectacle. Am thankful that the Eels will prob go far in the finals - would be disappointing for them to play only once on each day.

  • I think it should have been taken to PNG.

    • actually that is a good suggestion Snake . I don,t know if they would have enough reasonable accommodation but maybe if they could structure it in a way that some of the games could be played over there it would be great for the game. The future  very much needs to include them and other pacific island nations 

  • I reckon its a dumb como that screams of amateur hour.

    The international 9s is a better concept than this Mickey mouse comp that has nothing to be gained from. 

    With a 9s comp you can tour it and even turn it into its own thing players who don't cut it in 13 a side have an avenue a chris sandow type would forge a handy career on that circut

  • I would like to see some country players involved. All your major country teams, even Vic. and WA. How it would work is that every team, you would have to select which groups, some country groups only have a few teams and can't compete with the larger teams like Wagga, Dubbo, Bathurst and Grafton etc, but every team picks one player at the end of the season, those players go into a draw, every NRL teamdraws out one player each. The chosen player then has the opportunity to go train with an NRL team, at the NRL's cost, and play for that club in the nines. You would have to have age restrictions, maybe 18-23yr olds only eligible. It wouldn't be available to players who are already signed to an NRL club. This would spark more interest in bush footy. Just an idea.

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