Rugby league supporters and fans will get the chance to welcome all 16 NRL club teams to Auckland for the first time on Valentine’s Day (14 February) at Aotea Square, Auckland.
The inaugural Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines tournament will take place on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 February at Eden Park. All 16 NRL clubs will compete in a nine-a-side knock-out tournament for a prize pool exceeding $2.6 million.
The team welcome, organised by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), is the first official and only public event to feature all 16 NRL clubs, and more than 250 players will attend the event.
Mayor Len Brown says the welcome event provides Aucklanders and visitors with a unique opportunity to engage with the teams and embrace the exciting new NRL initiative which has joined Auckland’s major event calendar.
"It is always exciting to introduce a new, world-class annual event to Auckland, and it has been incredibly gratifying to see the enthusiasm for the event and building support for the teams among sports fans across the city. It will be an extraordinary weekend in Auckland," says Len Brown.
The team welcome will include a panel of NRL players and coaches for some banter, analysis and debate leading into the greatest weekend of rugby league in Auckland. There will be giveaways, as well as live performances from Auckland-based dance group The Royal Family - gold medallists at the 2013 World Hip-Hop Dance Championship.
"The rugby league community’s passion is legendary, and we know fans will come out to support their favourite NRL club’s team," says Len Brown.
"The Nines will kick off one of Auckland’s busiest ever weekends, which includes rap artist Eminem’s concert at Western Springs, and the Auckland Lantern Festival celebrating Chinese New Year in Albert Park. It’s more evidence that the show never stops in Auckland."
The Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines team welcome is a free event and starts at midday on Friday, 14 February.
Independent economic consultants The Fresh Information Company (formerly Covec), estimate the NRL Auckland Nines tournament will result in an additional 32,800 visitor nights for the region in 2014, rising to more than 43,000 in the tournament’s fifth year. The economic injection for Auckland has been estimated as $3.8 million in the first year, increasing to $6.8 million in year five.For more information go to aucklandnz.com/events/featured/nrl-nines.