TOMORROW sees the start of the Downer World Cup Nines tournament at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium – and there's plenty of Warrington interest.

England are of course involved, with Wire trio Daryl Clark, Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop set to see plenty of action over the weekend.

New signing Anthony Gelling is also in action for the Cook Islands while the England team for the women’s tournament captain Emily Rudge and St Helens teammate Jodie Cunningham – both of whom were born and raised in Warrington.

While Nines is a familiar concept to the Australian audience thanks to the pre-season NRL Auckland Nines tournament which ran between 2014 and 2017, it has not been seen so much in the northern hemisphere.

So, here is a handy guide to help you enjoy the action this weekend.


Nines follows the same basic principles as 13-a-side rugby league and on the same size pitch, but there are some important differences designed to make the game faster and more exciting.

- Nine players on each side, with unlimited interchanges.

- Games played over two nine-minute halves.

- Sets comprise of five tackles as opposed to six

- Sin bins capped at three minutes

- Conversions to be taken as drop kicks with a 25-second shot clock

- 20/40 kicks see possession retained alongside 40/20 kicks

- Scoring system remains the same – four points for a try, two for a conversion or penalty and one for a drop goal – but tries scored between the posts (aka “The Bonus Zone”) will be awarded five points

- If a game finishes as a draw, the winner will be decided in a “golden try” period of extra time where the next team to score a try wins.


In the men’s tournament, there are three pools that feature four teams, with each side playing each other once.

The top two in Pool A – which features Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the USA – and the first-place finishers in Pools B and C will qualify for the semi finals.

England are in Pool B alongside Wales, France and Lebanon while Pool C is made up of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

The women’s tournament runs alongside the men’s event but contains only four teams – Australia, New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea – who will play each other once in a pool stage with the top two advancing to the final.

FIXTURES (all kick offs are approximate and in UK time):

Friday: France vs Lebanon (8.20am), England Women vs PNG Women (8.45am), England vs Wales (9.10am), Tonga vs Cook Islands (9.35am), Samoa vs Fiji (10.10am), Australia Women vs New Zealand Women (10.35am), Australia vs New Zealand (12pm), Papua New Guinea vs USA (12.25pm)

Saturday: New Zealand Women vs Papua New Guinea Women (1.30am), France vs Wales (1.55am), England vs Lebanon (2.20am), Samoa vs Cook Islands (2.45am), Tonga vs Fiji (3.10am), New Zealand vs Papua New Guinea (3.45am), Australia vs USA (4.10am), Australia Women vs England Women (4.35am), Lebanon vs Wales (5am), England vs France (5.25am) Fiji vs Cook Islands (6am), Tonga vs Samoa (6.25am), New Zealand vs USA (6.50am), Australia vs Papua New Guinea (7.15am), Australia Women vs Papua New Guinea Women (7.40am), New Zealand Women vs England Women (8.05am), Men's semi-finals (8.55am and 9.20am), Women's final (9.45am), Men's final (11am)

All of the games will be shown on Sky Sports Arena and Main Event.