The inaugral Rugby League World Cup 9s will take place in Sydney this weekend - but how will it work and how is Nines different to the 13-a-side game we know and love? Here's all you need to know
What is Rugby League Nines?
The clue is in the name for the most obvious difference. It's a nine-a-side version of Rugby League, with 9 minute halves. With a more open playing area and unlimited interchanges, the faster, more athletic players tend to be selected; the result is an intense, faster-paced version of the game.
Here's everything you need to know about the format:
- Nine minute halves
- Three minute sin-bins
- Five tackles a set
- Five players in a scrum
- Unlimited Interchanges
- After scoring, play is restarted in the opposite direction with a tap on the half-way line.
- As well as the usual 40/20 rule, Nines has a 20/40 rule, where players behind their own 20m line can attempt to find touch beyond their opponent's 40m line.
- Conversions are taken as drop goals with a 25 second shot clock
- Draws are settled on Golden Try (not Golden Point!)
- Any tries touched down in the "Bonus Zone" (between the sticks) will count for five points instead of four
16 teams from 12 countries will be taking part in the 2019 competition. USA, France, Lebanon, Wales, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea will all be playing in the men's tournament, with the latter four also fielding women's teams.
What's the format?
With both men's and women's tournaments taking place across the same festival, we have two slightly different formats to look at.
Women's With just four teams this year, the women's game keeps things simple. Each team plays eachother once. Points are tallied the usual way (two for a win, one for a draw), and the top two teams face off in the final
Men's The 12 teams are split into three groups.
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, USA Group B: England, France, Lebanon, Wales, Group C: Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa
Much like the women's game, each team will play the other three teams in their group once. The winners of Group A and Group C will play eachother in one semi-final, the winner of Group B will play the runner up of Group A in the other. Group A has two teams progress as it contains two of the RLIF top-four sides in Australia and New Zealand. This means if England win their group, they'll have to overcome the Group A runners up to make it to the final
Who's playing for England?
There'll be a big mix of NRL and Super League talent in the England squad. Our very own #HuddersfieldBorn Jermaine McGillvary will be playing his first competitive Nines game since featuring in the Floodlit Nines for Huddersfield 11 years ago. There'll be no St Helens or Salford players selected due to the short turnaround from Old Trafford, but here's the full team below:
James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons, captain), Tom Burgess (South Sydney), Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves), Jake Connor (Hull FC), Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters), Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos), Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Ryan Sutton (Canberra Raiders), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers), Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders), Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons), George Williams (Wigan Warriors)
There's also a 16-woman squad featuring the very best of the Women's Super League, including last year's Woman of Steel Georgia Roche:
Dannielle Anderson (Leeds), Caitlin Beevers (Leeds), Leah Burke (St Helens), Chantelle Crowl (St Helens), Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Faye Gaskin (St Helens), Kelsey Gentles (Castleford), Amy Hardcastle (Bradford), Shona Hoyle (St Helens), Rhiannion Marshall (Castleford), Sinead Peach (Castleford), Georgia Roche (Castleford), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Tara-Jane Stanley (Castleford), Naomi Williams (St Helens), Georgia Wilson (Wigan)
Who else is playing?
Alongside plenty of NRL talent, there'll be lots of familiar faces for fans from the northern hemisphere. Leeds' midseason signing Rhyse Martin and Barrow's Watson Boas will join Garry Lo in the Papua New Guinea side, Anthony Gelling will represent the Cook Islands ahead of his return to Super League, Hull FC winger Bureta Faraimo will feature for USA; while Grand Final winner Kevin Naiqama and Catalans Dragons' Brayden Williame are in the Fiji squad.
Speaking of Catalans, there'll be plenty of Dragons in England's group, with Albert, Baitieri, Da Costa, Belmas and Romano joining Dezria, Macron, Marguerite, Sangare and Jusseaume (Toulouse); Jouffret (Featherstone) and Hakim Miloudi in the France side.
There'll be no shortage of well-known players in the Wales team, with men from Bradford, Halifax, London, Swinton and Toulouse joining Regan Grace in John Kear's side
On the sidelines, former Giants coach Rick Stone will be taking charge of the Lebanon side
When are the games?
Day 1 kicks off at 8.20am on Friday 18th October and sees each team play once. France vs Lebanon are the first out, followed by England Women's vs PNG at 8:45, and then England Men's vs Wales at 9:10.
The good news is Day 2 has a lot more games. The bad news is it kicks off at 1:30am on Saturday morning, and ends with an 11am final. Get yourself some coffee.
When are England Playing?
How can I watch?
All games will be live on Sky Sports Arena as well as the WatchNRL app. All games except for the final 3 on Day 1 will also be on Sky Sports Main Event