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National Rugby League launches 9-a-side tournament

September 4, 2013

SYDNEY (AP) — Attempting to ride on the success of the rival code’s rugby sevens competition, the National Rugby League on Wednesday announced a nine-a-side tournament involving all 16 teams.

The $2 million event will be held at Auckland’s Eden Park from Feb. 15-16 next year.

The NRL Nines will feature four groups of four teams playing 18-minute matches. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the playoffs.

Regulation rugby league teams feature 13 players, so there should be more space for attack in the condensed version.

The rugby union sevens — a scaled down version of the regular 15-a-side game — has developed into an annual International Rugby Board series and will be featured for the first time at the Olympics at Rio in 2016.

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