Rugby league nines

Rugby league nines (or simply nines) is a version of rugby league football played with nine players on each side. The game is substantially the same as full rugby league, with some differences in rules and shorter games. Nines is usually played in festivals, as its shorter game play allows for a tournament to be completed in a day or over a single weekend. It has become more popular than the similar rugby league sevens (rugby league with seven players to a side), with many tournaments using nines to distinguish it from rugby union sevens.

Rugby league nines
Highest governing bodyRugby League International Federation
NicknamesNines, Football, Footy, League
Team members15 (9 on field + 6 interchange)
Mixed genderSingle
VenueRugby league playing field


The laws of the game are the same as standard rugby league laws with the following exceptions.

  • Each team is allowed a squad of up to fifteen players, with no more than nine players on the field at any time. Unlimited substitutions are allowed from a named bench of four players.
  • The match lasts for 15 minutes, divided into two halves of 7 minutes 30 seconds. There is no half time interval but teams are allowed a maximum of 1 minute to change ends. Each half starts with a place kick.
  • Scrums consist of no more than 5 forwards, with a maximum 3 in the front row and 2 in the second row. When the ball is in the scrum no more than 4 players from each team shall act as backs. The ball must emerge from behind the feet of the second row.
  • Conversions after a successful try take the form of drop kicks. Players from the team that has conceded the score do not have to retire behind the try line but must not interfere with any conversion attempt.
  • When points have been scored the team against which points have been scored will restart the game with a tap restart from the centre of the half-way line.
  • When a team is awarded a penalty then play must proceed by way of a tap 10-metres in advance of where the infringement took place.
  • In the event of misconduct by a player the referee can suspend for 5 minutes. In the Carnegie Floodlit Nines, a major nines competition, this has been reduced to 2 minutes.[1]

Buderus blueprint

Danny Buderus, a former Australian rugby league player (retired after playing for NRL team Newcastle Knights) has prepared a blueprint for a new rugby league nines format, with the intention of taking rugby league to a more global market,

  • Each team would consist of nine on-field players plus five interchange players.
  • Games would be played in two 20 minute halves.
  • Scrums would be replaced by turnovers.
  • Teams would be allowed an unlimited number of interchanges.
  • A team would surrender possession if the dummy-half is tackled.

NRL Auckland Nines

The major rule changes that differ from regular National Rugby League games are as follows:

  • Two nine-minute halves with a two-minute half time period.
  • Nine players a side with six unlimited interchange players.
  • Scrums will only form after a double knock on, with attacking teams to elect which side to feed the ball.
  • No video referee, with one on-field referee.
  • Five minute golden try period in qualifying rounds with a draw to be deemed if there is no result, while unlimited golden try for the finals.
  • A tap restart will take 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 dropkick off to restart play.
  • Three minute sin bins.
  • Five tackles in a set.

Major nines festivals



New Zealand



  • Zambales International Rugby League 9s Philippines

Thailand - TRLA

Bangkok 9s - October Phuket 9s - October

North America

United States

  • USA Rugby League 9s United States
  • Carolina 9's United States



  • Kilkenny 9s Republic of Ireland
  • Portadown 9s


Continental Europe


See also


  1. ^ Super League (2009-08-04). "Officials look forward to Carnegie Floodlit 9s". Super League. Archived from the original on 2011-12-17. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championship

The 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championship was a rugby league nines tournament organised by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) to be played in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia in February 2018. The event, featured eight men's teams, six women's teams and three physical disability teams, was one of the exhibition sports for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and was in support of the bid for rugby league nines to be a full medal event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.The tournament was dominated by Australia, who won all three competitions.

Americas 9s

The Americas Nines is a rugby league nines competition staged by the Canada Rugby League and was founded in 2018. The first tournament occurred on May 18, 2019 at Lamport Stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Cabramatta International Nines

Cabramatta International Nines is a rugby league nines tournament held annually in Cabramatta, New South Wales, Australia it was first held in 2003.

Carnegie Floodlit Nines

Carnegie Floodlit Nines is a rugby league nines event held at Headingley Stadium in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. The same stadium hosted the Headingley Sevens, rugby league sevens tournament from 1965-78. The old BBC2 Floodlit Trophy is awarded to the winner of the competition.

Cheltenham Rugby Festival

GRL Cheltenham Rugby Festival is a rugby league nines event held in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. It is organised by the Gloucestershire County Rugby League in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Council and the Tourist Board.

It will take place on Friday 2 May at the Prince of Wales stadium in Cheltenham. The event is intended to dovetail with the Rugby Football League’s Millennium Magic event in Cardiff on the weekend of 3–4 May.

It comprises two main elements: the All Golds Cup and the 1908 Cup.

Fiji at the 2015 Pacific Games

Fiji competed at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from 4 to 18 July 2015. A total of 481 competitors for Fiji were listed as of 4 July 2015.

Middlesex 9s

Middlesex 9s (also known as the Mx9s) is a rugby league nines tournament that is hosted by the London Skolars rugby league club at their New River Stadium in North London, and held in August.

The Middlesex 9s was a concept formulated between the Federation of Middlesex Sports and the London Skolars based along similar lines as the rugby union sevens tournament; the Middlesex 7s.

The tournament brings together teams from abroad, amateur, student and the armed forces. The aims are to aid the development of rugby league. It is unusual in allowing rugby union clubs to take part in a rugby league competition.

The 2006 competition was expanded to involve mainly international teams from the developing nations, and held in conjunction with the Challenge Cup final after its relocation back to London. This event included the largest number of international rugby league teams to be in the UK since the last World Cup.

The 2007 tournament featured national amateur teams from eight different nations plus a European Federation select side, GB Students, a London origin team and the Army.

Midlands 9s

The Midlands 9s is a rugby league nines event held in the Midlands region and organised by the Midlands Rugby League. It was first held on 20 April 2008 at the home ground of Old Coventrians, Coventry, England. The same venue hosted the 2009 tournament but in 2010 it moved to Mount St Mary's College, Spinkhill.

Competing teams included: Coventry Bears, St Ives Roosters, North Derbyshire Chargers, Heavy Woolen Donkeys and a combined Redditch Ravens/ Wolverhampton Wizards team - Redditch Wizards.

NRL Auckland Nines

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.In October 2018, NRL announced the inaugural edition of Rugby League World Cup 9s in Western Sydney in October 2019, featuring 12 international men's teams and 4 women's teams.

Northern Rail Nines

The Northern Rail Nines is a rugby league nines tournament held in Lytham St Annes and Blackpool Lancashire, England as part of a celebration weekend encompassing the Northern Rail Cup Final.

The inaugural tournament was held on 11 and 12 July 2009 and was won by Blackpool Panthers with Halifax winning the Plate final.

Rugby league at the Pacific Games

Rugby league was introduced to the Pacific Games in 2007 at Apia in Samoa. Rugby league nines is the form of the game currently played at the Pacific Games. The 7-a-side version of the game was played at the 2009 Pacific Mini Games.

Rugby league in Italy

Rugby league is a team sport.

Rugby league nines at the 2007 Pacific Games

Rugby league nines at the 2007 Pacific Games was held from 5-6 September 2007 at Marist St. Joseph's Stadium. Fiji won the gold medal, defeating the Cook Islands in the final by 14-0. Hosts Samoa took the bronze medal, defeating Tonga by 20–10 in the third place match.

Rugby league nines at the 2015 Pacific Games

Rugby league nines at the 2015 Pacific Games was held from 11–12 July 2015 at Sir John Guise Stadium. Hosts Papua New Guinea won the gold medal, defeating Samoa in the final by 38–10. Tonga took the bronze medal, defeating the Cook Islands by 16-14 in the third place match. PNG's Wartovo Puara Jr was named Player of the Tournament.

Rugby league sevens

Rugby league sevens (or simply sevens) is a seven-a-side derivative of rugby league football, which is usually a thirteen-a-side sport. The game is substantially the same as full rugby league, with some rule changes and shorter games. Sevens is usually played in festivals, as its shorter game play allows for a tournament to be completed in a day or over a single weekend.

As well as being played by club sides, rugby league sevens is particularly popular with social teams, formed in the workplace or from the patrons of a public house for example, as it is often difficult in these places to form a full squad of 13 players and four substitutes of regular players. Some tournaments prefer to play rugby league nines (rugby league with nine players on each side) to distinguish it from rugby union sevens.

Scarborough Rugby League Festival

Scarborough International Rugby League Festival is a rugby league nines tournament that is held in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. The 2008 festival was played at George Pindar School on Saturday 26 April 2008 and Sunday 27 April 2008.

The festival is a joint initiative from Breakaway Sports Tours, the RFL, Scarborough Pirates ARLFC and Scarborough Council and is aimed at teams from under-8 to under-13s.

In 2007, 33 teams involving 450 players played 107 matches with 1,500 people attending over the two days.

Super League World Nines

The Super League World Nines (known as the Gatorade Super League World Nines due to sponsorship), was a pre-season rugby league nines tournament between national sides. Set up in the midst of the Super League war and created in opposition to the Australian Rugby League's World Sevens tournament, the tournament was held twice before being abandoned when the two factions merged to form the National Rugby League.

Tarsha Gale Cup

The Tarsha Gale Cup is one of the main Women's rugby league nines competitions in Australia.

The New South Wales Rugby League announced the creation of a nine-a-side under-18s women's league for 2017 Named the Tarsha Gale Nines after the former Australian Jillaroos and NSW captain of the 1990s.

York International 9s

York International 9s is an international rugby league nines tournament taking place in York, England. It is held at Heworth ARLC's Elmpark Way ground on the north east side of the city. The 2007 tournament took place on Saturday 14 July.

The tournament was first held in 2002 as part of City of York Council's Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations. The competition was awarded a 5* rating from the Rugby League European Federation and was the first nines event in Europe.

The tournament last took place in 2009.

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