The Auckland Nines "could be missing from the calendar next year" as the event's promoters and the National Rugby League "wrestle with how to fit it" into an offseason schedule that includes the Rugby League World Cup, according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The possibility of a venue change in '18 was raised after "poor crowds" attended the tournament in February, but it is reportedly "increasingly likely" that it will not go ahead at all. The "primary reason is concern over the workload of players," particularly those who compete in the World Cup, to be run in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea from Oct. 27-Dec. 2. The All Stars game "has already been removed temporarily from the calendar," meaning that if the Nines does not go ahead, the preseason will feature only the World Club Series and trial games. Promoter Duco Events confirmed on Monday that a full feasibility assessment on an '18 tournament was under way due to the "challenges with the Rugby League World Cup" (SMH, 6/19).
Events and Attractions
The Gaelic Athletic Association confirmed that a special congress will be held on Sept. 30 to consider proposals for the reform of the hurling championships, according to RTÉ. The proposed format for the competition would see the Leinster and Munster championships "transformed into round-robin competitions" from '18. There would also be the creation of a third qualifying group, also played on a round-robin basis, "from which the winners would earn promotion to their relevant provincial championship" for the following season. Counties and provinces will have until July 14 to suggest amendments to the current proposals (RTÉ, 6/19).
HEIGHTENED SECURITY: In Dublin, Eamon Donoghue reported as of this weekend, patrons "will no longer be permitted into Croke Park with backpacks or large bags of any description." Only bags measuring 8.27in x 11.7in (21cm x 29.7cm) or smaller will be allowed into GAA HQ. The GAA said that "to avoid lengthy queues, we strongly advise you do not bring a bag" (IRISH TIMES, 6/19).
UEFA announced a partnership with the Leaders Generation XX Series. The new series will provide a year-round platform for the discussion around stimulating growth in women's sport. The series will kick off with a "think tank" on Tuesday, during Women's Sport Week. Two more Generation XX events will take place before the end of the year. These will be supported by monthly intelligence pieces, culminating in a red-carpet evening to kick off Leaders Week 2017 in October. UEFA's ambition for women's football focuses on four key aspects for the game to become commercially sustainable: addressing the profile and image of the game, increasing visibility and engagement, driving participation at grassroots level and increasing investment in the game. Leaders is owned and operated by American City Business Journals (Leaders).
Australian Football League side Port Adelaide Power will meet the AFL Commission on Tuesday, according to Jon Pierik of THE AGE. The Power and the Adelaide Crows will each meet the Commission in Adelaide ahead of the Hall of Fame celebration. One of the Power's "key planks" for '18 is another match in Shanghai, "although there is a preference for it to be staged earlier in the season during Australia week celebrations." The Gold Coast Suns expressed interest in again selling a home game and partnering with the Power but "will need to show a more enthusiastic front than they did this year." Geelong has also expressed interest, although this has been seen as "more of a bargaining attempt" to avoid having to stage a home game at Etihad Stadium. A Melbourne-based club "could yet emerge, with help from the state government." AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan hailed this year's game "as a success." McLachlan said, "We think we've invested for the long-term here. We'll continue to work with the local authority and the layers of government in this country." Port Adelaide Chair David Koch said that the club already has A$2M ($1.52M) in sponsorship for next year's match (THE AGE, 6/19).
For a country that has not played int'l cricket at home against any "top cricketing nation," Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said that the Int'l Cricket Council Champions Trophy triumph was necessary to "identify their heroes." The South African "is hopeful," like team captain Sarfraz Ahmed, that this victory will "usher a new era in the country's cricket." The ICC "is likely to send a World XI to Pakistan in September" and Arthur hopes it will "pave the way for future tours" (PTI, 6/19).
The Goodwood Festival of Speed, "one of Britain's most popular motor racing events, will break with tradition this year" and use its "central feature" to celebrate former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone rather than an automotive brand. Organizers of the June 29-July 2 event in southern England said that the sculpture will celebrate the "Five Ages of Ecclestone" (REUTERS, 6/19).