The NRL’s much-loved pre-season Nines competition will make its return next season, with the 2020 NRL Nines to be played at Perth’s HBF Park on February 14 and 15.
Following a sell-out crowd at Perth’s Optus Stadium for State of Origin Game 2, the NRL is going back to the Western Australia well as they seek to grow the game across the Nullarbor.
To encourage clubs to field their strongest lineups possible, the NRL will award additional prize money to the premiership winning side if they also win the Nines tournament.
“The sell-out crowd in Perth for State of Origin highlighted how much interest West Australians have in rugby league and we are committed to growing the game here,” said Graham Annesley – NRL head of elite football – in a press release.
“There are few better destinations than summer in Perth and we want this event to be a summer vibes festival. We’re looking forward to seeing a stadium of colour to kick-off our 2020 season.
“Nines is the fastest form of our game. It shows the speed, agility and attacking prowess of our most exciting players,” he said.
The 16 NRL sides will play in four pools of four teams, with a detailed fixture to be revealed closer to February. Four NRLW sides will also participate in an as-of-yet unannounced capacity.
The Nines format – a shorter, sharper format of the game akin to Rugby Sevens or Twenty20 cricket – began in Auckland in 2014. Despite the more laid back, festival-like approach proving immensely popular with spectators, the concept was seemingly abandoned after 2017 following concerns over player workload in a World Cup year.
The Broncos, Rabbitohs and Roosters have all been crowned NRL Nines champions, with Parramatta’s 2016 triumph annulled following revelations of a salary cap breach.