With just 15 days remaining until the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, the NRL has reaffirmed its commitment to rugby league in Auckland, announcing a focus on grassroots, female participation and referees in 2015.
In partnership with ATEED, the NRL has unveiled its 2015 program to enhance rugby league in Auckland on the back of the success of the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, which will be held at Eden Park later this month.
The details were confirmed at Auckland's Eden Park today during an announcement involving Auckland Mayor Len Brown, NRL Head of Commercial Paul Kind, Duco Events Chief Executive Martin Snedden, NZRL Chief Executive Phil Holden and ATEED Chief Executive Brett O'Riley.
In the days leading up to the 2015 Nines, which will be held on Saturday, January 31 and Sunday, February 1 at Auckland's Eden Park, the NRL will stage a Rugby League High-Performance Conference, as well as a Referee Workshop and a Women in League Leadership Forum.
Those three events will complement the key events which will be held in the lead-up to the 2015 Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, including the NRL Season Launch on Thursday night as well as Friday's Fan Day at Aotea Square, which will give supporters the chance to meet players from all 16 NRL clubs.
"The commitment that the NRL has made to rugby league in Auckland through the Nines is significant in itself, but we have a chance to further grow interest in the game on the back of the tournament," Mr Kind said.
"The Nines provides us with something that is very unique for our code – all 16 teams coming together on the one stage. That brings with it opportunity – our Friday Fan Day will be the biggest day of fan engagement that we have been involved in.
"We are committed to using the success of the Nines to grow the game in Auckland. This year we have made junior coaches, referees and women our priorities and we look forward to seeing the impact of this Legacy Plan in years to come."
Auckland Mayor Len Brown said today's announcement reaffirmed the NRL's commitment to rugby league at grassroots level.
"The city is on a massive high when the NRL Nines comes to town and forms part of a massive international programme this summer which will deliver significant economic and social benefits for the region," Mr Brown said.
The program will provide increased opportunities for participation across all levels of the code by investing resources into the sporting community.
This year, forty female rugby league administrators will attend the Women in Rugby League Forum on Thursday, January 29.
The High-Performance Conference, which will be held on Friday January 30, will be aimed at junior coaches and will include presentations and panel discussions. Meanwhile, local referees will be involved in a Referees Workshop which will also involve members of the NRL refereeing squad.
One of the key focusses of the program, female participation, has contributed to this year's Nines event including a nine-a-side match-up between the current women's World Champions the Jillaroos against New Zealand's Kiwi Ferns.
Since the NRL, in partnership with Duco Events and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) announced that the Nines would be held at Eden Park on 31 January and 1 February, tickets for the 2015 tournament have been selling fast.
For more information and to purchase tickets to the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, visit www.ticketek.co.nz/nrlakl9s