The Rugby World Cup in Japan isn’t the only major thing going on at the moment.
While Eddie Jones’ England prepare to face Australia in a huge quarter final tomorrow, there’s another big rugby competition taking place across the Pacific Ocean.
The International Rugby League’s newest tournament – the ‘World Cup Nines’ – got under way today (Friday), with the women’s and men’s fixtures all taking place in one stadium.
Twelve countries compete in Sydney in the men’s tournament and four play in the women’s competition.
The tournament sees men and women receive equal pay for the first time in the sport, with all competitors being paid $2,000 AUS (£1,062) for competing across the weekend.
The games follow modified rugby league rules;
-Matches are played between nine players for two nine-minute halves
-There are unlimited interchanges
-Five tackles per set rather than six
-Sin-bins last for three minutes rather than 10
-All conversion attempts are drop goals
-Five points are awarded for tries scored under the posts
-Drawn matches will be decided by golden try
England beat Wales in their first game of the tournament, running out 25-4 winners against Wales.
Warrington Wolves’ Daryl Clarke scored England’s first ever nine-a-side try.
England’s ladies side also ran out 25-4 winners. They beat Papa New Guinea, thanks to a standout performance from St Helens’ Emily Rudge.
England men’s coach Wayne Bennett said that the Nines tournament could be a great advert for the game.
“It’s great to see all the teams and the women are here,” said Bennett.
“It’s not easy to do (because) obviously there’s a bit of expense involved, but we’ve just got to be consistent with it and have the confidence that it can work for us and grow the game.
“We’ve got a history of getting out of things too quick. Hopefully we’ll stay with it and add something to the rugby league calendar.”
Meanwhile, son of Wigan and St Helens legend Kevin Iro, Kayal led the way for the Cook Islands to run out shock winners in a 30-7 battering of Tonga.
Day two starts at 1.30am GMT and England are back in action against Lebanon at 2.20am on Saturday They’ll face France three hours later.
The final takes place at 11am GMT on Saturday.