A rugby league preseason competition "will be reborn next season" with a A$2M ($1.8M) prize pool, according to Michael Carayannis of the BRISBANE TIMES. The nines tournament will be unveiled by the National Rugby League on Thursday, "with all 16 clubs competing in the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park" on Feb. 15-16. Winners "will walk away" with about A$450,000 while teams "will be guaranteed a minimum" of A$90,000. Clubs "must provide at least one of their five highest-paid players in their squad of 16, which will include at least 12 players from the club's top-25 squad" (BRISBANE TIMES, 9/4). In Sydney, Stuart Honeysett reported the teams "will be split into pools of four" with the top eight advancing to the quarterfinals, followed by semifinals and a final Games "will consist of two halves of nine minutes." Australia coach Tim Sheens "has been drafted in to help with rule changes." Several NRL players, including Paul Gallen, Todd Carney, Sam Thaiday, Willie Mason, Anthony Watmough, Greg Bird and Robbie Farah, "have flagged their interest to play in the tournament" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/4).
AUCKLAND SHOWCASE: In Auckland, Steve Deane reported Auckland Mayor Len Brown announced that the "multimillion-dollar NRL Nines tournament will be a feature of the city's summer for at least the next five years." Brown: "Auckland has secured a five-year partnership with the NRL to host an annual Nines tournament. It's the first time the 16 clubs of the NRL have played in one place at the one time." While "a carnival atmosphere akin to Wellington's Sevens tournament is expected, the games will have a serious edge." NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg: "Make no mistake, the 16 teams will be there to win" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 9/4).
BIG MONEY: In Melbourne, Nick Smart reported Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy says the A$2M prize pie on offer "will not be enough for his galaxy of stars to play in the inaugural NRL Auckland Nines." Bellamy "has made no secret of his fear the season is getting longer every year." Bellamy: "There’s a few rules and regulations here we have to abide by and I guess everyone has to abide by. We will certainly do that, but I don't think you will see too many of our big guns playing in that" (HERALD SUN, 9/5).
All roads on the European and Challenge tours "will lead to Dubai this fall," with both circuits wrapping up their seasons with formats "featuring elite players and multiple stakes on offer," according to Steve Elling of THE NATIONAL. Similar to the annual big-money Race to Dubai season finale, the limited-field DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, the developmental Challenge Tour "will end its season at a new event featuring its top 45 players at Al Badia Golf Club," set for Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. Al Badia GM James Shippey said, "It’s great to have all these different facets of golf on board and happening in the same place." The tournament, called the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final, will feature 25% more world-ranking points "than are typically available at a Challenge event." The top 15 in earnings at the end of the 72-hole affair "will be promoted" to the European Tour in '14. The Challenge Tour, which has been seeking a host venue for the finale for several months, "signed a three-year deal with Al Badia to host the event," which features a purse of €330,000 ($436,000) (THE NATIONAL, 9/4).
The Grand Prix of Austria, which will make a comeback on next year's F1 calender, "will reportedly take place June 22." Originally, the race "was scheduled for July 6 and later rescheduled for June 29." However, the correct date "will be revealed when motorsports governing body FIA releases the official F1 calendar in the fall" (Ö24, 9/3). ... The German Hockey League (DEL) "is looking for a host venue for its next outdoor Winter Game, which will take place in January '15." The league said that "corresponding application forms have been sent to interested cities." DEL Managing Dir Gernot Tripcke said that "the DEL wants to hold its so-called Winter Game every other year" (SPORT1, 9/3). ... Ontario, Canada's Angus Glen Golf Club will be the venue for golf when the sport makes its Pan American Games debut in '15. The club, which "has two 18-hole championship courses," was "selected through a request for proposals process conducted by Golf Canada" (680 NEWS, 9/4). ... The West Indies Cricket Board on Wednesday accepted India's invitation for a series in November which would "allow senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar to play his milestone 200th Test in front of home fans" (PTI, 9/4). ... In a "first of its kind in India," the Cricket Association of Bengal will be organizing the "four-day final of the pre-season S. K. Acharya Memorial Trophy (Ranji Preseason tournament) where pink balls will be used and the match will be played under floodlights." The final match of the four-team tournament "will be played at Eden Gardens" from Oct. 1-4 (PTI, 9/4). ... The Zimbabwe Cricket Union announced on Wednesday that Zimbabwe has moved the venue of next week's second test against Pakistan from Bulawayo to Harare, the nation's capital, for "logistical reasons and to save costs." The test will be played from Sept. 10-14. A saving of some $75,000 will be made "by playing the test at the Harare Sports Club," where officials said that the first test of the series "is currently underway" (REUTERS, 9/4).