30 March 2023
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce that 2023 will see the much-awaited return of the National District 9s. This will be the second instalment of the National District 9s after the inaugural event’s success.
This year the National District 9s will be held at Bruce Pulman Park over the course of the Easter Weekend, with the 16s Boys and Girls competition being played on the 8th of April, the 18s Boys and Girls competition being played on the 9th of April and the finals of all four age group divisions culminating on the 10th of April.
Ten districts will be represented at the Nationals spanning Northland, Auckland, Coastline, Hauraki, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.
The top qualifying eight district teams (per age group) will compete in the National 9s Tournament. The National District 9s Tournament will collectively see 32 teams compete with a 16s Boys Champion, 16s Girls Champion, 18s Boys Champion and 18s Girls Champion, all crowned at the conclusion of the tournament.
The National District 9s is one of the most significant events in rugby league calendar as David McMeeken, National Football Operations Manager at NZRL, says: “The 9s format is a proven successful entry point for rugby league as it nurtures and grows the game at a district level.”
After a successful 2022 competition, districts will look to build momentum off the back of last season both in boys and girls’ age groups. One of the event’s initial intentions was to bring that competition back at a regional level while fostering and developing rangatahi talent throughout the country, something that was a proven success as many of the talent that played within last year’s competition went on to represent their districts in the girls and boys youth tournament held later that year.
The growth in interest and participation in the girls game across the country is something to note as formats like the 9s help enable to push the girls game. Luisa Avaiki, Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, says: “I’m beyond delighted that we can continue this momentum. It’s a significant event in our calendar and one that encourages girls from every district across New Zealand to get involved and fall in love with rugby league.”