Fans dressed to the Nines
Eight teams will be battling for the right to call themselves champions on Saturday, when the inaugural ProRugby League Nelson Nines League Tourney is held at Trafalgar Park.
Much like rugby sevens, the tournament will show off an abbreviated form of the game, with teams taking the field with nine players and with nine-minute halves.
Five teams from the Nelson region are taking part, with others coming from Marlborough (Wairau Taniwha), Wellington (Toa), and Christchurch (Aranui Eagles).
The teams will be split into two pools with pool A containing the Wairau Taniwha, Wanderers Wolves, Tahuna Tigers, and Aranui Eagles, and pool B Toa, Richmond Rabbits, Stoke Cobras and Victory Vikings.
The top two teams from each pool will meet in the semis.
While the game is new to all involved, the Stoke Cobras deserve to go in as favourites, having been the dominant team in Nelson in recent seasons.
Aranui will also be prominent given the strength of league in Christchurch.
Tasman Rugby League chairman Paul Lafotanoa said nines was a sped up version of the 13-man game.
There were no scrums and unlimited interchanges from the five-man bench.
"It will be a good opportunity for individuals to stand out as there are only nine players in the team and a lot of throwing of the ball around and skills on display.
"For the local club, it's a good opportunity pre-season to see how fit they are, gauge where they are with their fitness, as well as team bond and maybe work on a few combinations."
There will be plenty ofentertainment for children, and organisers are hoping for the crowd to get into the spirit of the day by dressing up and showing their support for the teams.
The ProRugby League Nelson Nines League Tourney begins at 10am, with the first match between Wairau Taniwha and Wanderers Wolves kicking off at 10.30am. The final is scheduled for 5.20pm. Adults $7, kids $5, under 5 free. Family of two kids and three adults $25.
The Nelson Mail