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NRL Nines

(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The NRL Nines is an annual NRL pre-season competition which sees all 16 teams square off in a shortened rugby league format.

It was originally launched in 2014 as the Auckland Nines, before going on a brief hiatus after 2017. However, the format returned in 2020 with the Perth Nines.

VIEW THE FULL 2020 NRL NINES FIXTURE HERE.
VIEW THE FULL 2020 NRL NINES SQUADS HERE.

Teams of nine players play games of two nine-minute halves. The 16 teams are split into four groups, playing three games each across the first part of the weekend, before quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final are played the next day. The 2020 edition also saw four NRLW teams added to the mix in their own round-robin tournament.

The modified tournament also sees a bonus zone behind the goalposts where tries were worth five points.

The concept began in 2014, with fans taking to the concept originally. Sellout crowds at Eden Park in Auckland surrounded the first tournament, however, by 2017, interest in the tournament was beginning to wane with a more structured game being played and the result being lower scores and less entertainment.

The current champions are the North Queensland Cowboys, while the St George Illawarra Dragons are the reigning NRLW Nines winners.

The Brisbane Broncos were the first champions in 2014, before the South Sydney Rabbitohs won in 2015. The 2016 premiers remain vacant after the Parramatta Eels were caught over the salary cap, while the Sydney Roosters won in 2017.

With a busy off-season in 2017, including a Rugby League World Cup, the tournament was suspended for 2018 alongside the NRL All Stars match.

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Despite rumours the competition would make its return in 2019, this ultimately proved not to be the case. The likelihood of Nines ever returning looked slim, but the NRL revealed in October that Nines were returning in February.

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