National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith Thursday revealed the Auckland Nines "are on target to become the biggest box-office smash in the history of rugby league across the Tasman, and Cronulla is among a clutch of struggling clubs that want a piece of the action," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Smith said that "the event had already generated" more than A$3M ($2.7M) in ticket revenue, easily covering the A$2.25M prizemoney. The inaugural winner will receive a cheque for A$460,000, "an appealing booty for clubs such as the struggling Sharks, whose financial position has been exacerbated by the ongoing Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation." In excess of 35,000 tickets "have been sold for each day of the event," which will be held on Feb. 15 and 16 at Eden Park. As well as ticket revenue, the tournament "has also secured Dick Smith as a major sponsor" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13). In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported NRL players Robbie Farah and Todd Carney believe the appeal of a A$2.25M prize pool "will entice most clubs to send their strongest team to the NRL Auckland Nines in February" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/12).
Events and Attractions
Toyota "has entered a team in the 2014 Dakar Rally," according to KYODO. The team plans to run a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 SUV in the "roughly 5,500-km off-road race that runs through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile from Jan. 4 to 18." The Land Cruiser will "run on biodiesel made from used cooking oil," emitting 60% less carbon dioxide than regular diesel. Driver Jun Mitsuhashi said, "I want to compete on the world stage in a Japanese car and with Japanese technology" (KYODO, 12/12).
Speculation that "Holden's decision to stop making cars at the end of 2017 will take the V8 out of V8 Supercars is flawed," according to Mark Fogarty of THE AGE. Not only "is there no plan for the series to drop the V8 tag once production of V8 Commodore road cars ceases, little more than a year after the demise of V8 Falcons, but the two things are unrelated." While Holden "may choose not to continue competing in V8 racing from 2018 for marketing reasons, it won't be forced out because it doesn't make or sell a V8-powered model." The fact is, under the wider eligibility rules of the new-generation car regulations, "virtually any make can compete whether the model it wants to race is sold with a V8 engine or not." The only requirement is that the racing version "uses a five-litre V8 that drives the rear wheels" (THE AGE, 12/13).
The proposed Manly-Canberra National Rugby League clash in China next year "faces the scrap heap unless it is given the green light by early next week." An agreement between all parties "must be reached by Wednesday, and if it doesn't proceed there is no scope for it to be revived in future" (CANBERRA TIMES, 12/13). ... The UAE "could become a regional hub for cycling, according to Irish former professional cyclist Sean Kelly, who is competing in Friday’s Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge." After this week’s unveiling of the inaugural Dubai Tour from Feb. 5-8, and following on from the already existing races in Qatar and Oman, cycling "is enjoying unprecedented growth in the region, with cycle tracks being built locally in Nad Al Sheba and Al Qudra" (GULF NEWS, 12/12). ... The AmBank-SportExcel Malaysian Junior Golf Grand Finals from Wdnesday through Friday received a RM75,000 ($23,200) "shot in the arm, courtesy of AmBank’s sponsorship." This is a significant increase from last year, when AmBank, which has been sponsoring the event since '06, poured in RM26,800. This year’s event "will be held at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club in Shah Alam" (THE STAR, 12/12). ... Spain "will return to play at San Mamés" stadium in Bilbao. UEFA "will make this official" on Sept. 25, when it confirms the 13 host cities for Euro 2020. The Spanish national team's return to Bilbao "was an objective of Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Ángel María Villar's" (AS, 12/12).