TEAMS appear likely to be chosen by invitation rather than qualification for the first Nines World Cup, which will have “hundreds of thousands” of Australian dollars in prize money.
The tournament was officially confirmed for the new A$300 million Western Sydney Stadium at Parramatta during a media conference on Friday. The Nines World Cup will be played on Friday October 18 and Saturday October 19 featuring 12 men’s and four women’s teams.
The identities of the competing nations and the size of the prize pool were not immediately announced, although NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg gave hints as to both.
Qualification has been an issue for new international competitions such as last year’s women’s World Cup, for which teams refused to take part in a play-off series they deemed unfair and Cook Islands qualified by forfeit.
“There will be an invitation process run through the international federation and there will be a wide-ranging representation of nations,” Greenberg said.
The #VRL is comfortable to not be part of the tournament if a transparent process is in place to select the teams but would suggest a qualifying tournament is fairest option. Could also utilise 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa as a qualifying event (have men & women’s 9’s).
— Vanuatu Rugby League (@Vanuaturl) November 30, 2018
“I can imagine the likes of our Pacific nations playing here in October. Imagine PNG, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji up against Australia, New Zealand, England plus other nations.“
Vanuatu was one of the first countries to express concern about the qualification system, calling on Twitter for a “transparent” process.
But because there is no organised Nines circuit, there is no way to rank nations.
Again, in the Women’s World Cup, France had begun training for the tournament when they were replaced by Canada.
On what will be up for grabs, Greenberg said: “The details of prize money we are not prepared to release at the moment because there is a discussion to be had with the Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players association.
“However you can be assured there will be hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs.”