In what sporting history will judge as the beginning of a World Series Rugby League Nines circuit, rugby has won where politics faltered in a trade deal formed between the UK and US.
The largest Rugby Nines festival in Europe, the award-winning London Nines (LDN9s) on August 25, has formally agreed a partnership with the USA-based Carolina Nines (Carolina9s), to be staged on Memorial Weekend, May 24 to 27.
This creates a trans-Atlantic dimension to participant-focused Rugby Nines festivals and a revolutionary step toward establishing Nines as a global entity.
“There are now exciting opportunities for adult rugby players and fans to enjoy Nines rugby and music festivals in both North America and the UK,” said London Nines promoter Graham Oliphant.
“In addition to this pipeline, we would also invite other European-based independent Nines festivals to connect and enjoy reciprocal benefits from this growing umbrella Nines structure.”
The London Nines, run for the first time in 2018, will this year form a pillar in an innovative rugby league weekend in London with fans able to purchase a single ticket providing them with entry to Oliphant’s East London Rugby Club extravaganza, London Skolars’ popular Friday Night Lights promotion and the iconic Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
The Carolina Nines are in their first year. The venue will be Saluda Shoals Park in Irmo, South Carolina, with promoter Andy Lucas hellbent on as much diversity as possible. Men's and women's events will be complemented by college, high school, flag rugby, wheelchair and physical disability matches.
Oliphant and Lucas have shared resources in the hope that others will join them in creating a circuit where sponsorship, media, travel and community integration opportunities can be maximised as it has in many other international sports.