Carolina the latest American name to be linked with rugby league

A World Series Rugby League Nines circuit could have started after London Nines (LDN9s) agreed a partnership with Carolina Nines (Carolina 9s).

The largest Rugby Nines festival in Europe, the London Nines is due to be held this year on August 25, while the Carolina event is stayed on Memorial Weekend, May 24 to 27.

This creates a trans-Atlantic dimension to participant-focused Rugby Nines festivals and a revolutionary step toward establishing Nines as a global entity.

And the winning men’s and women’s teams from the Carolina Nines will travel to London to represent the USA in the London Nines.

London Nines promoter, Graham Oliphant, said: “There are now exciting opportunities for adult rugby players and fans to enjoy Nines rugby and music festivals in both North America and the UK.

“In addition to this pipeline, we would also invite other European-based independent Nines festivals to connect and enjoy reciprocal benefits from this growing umbrella Nines structure.”

The London Nines, run for the first time in 2018, will this year form a pillar in an innovative rugby league weekend in London with fans able to purchase a single ticket providing them with entry to Oliphant’s East London Rugby Club extravaganza, London Skolars’ popular Friday Night Lights promotion and the iconic Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

The Carolina Nines are in their first year. The venue will be Saluda Shoals Park in Irmo, South Carolina, with promoter Andy Lucas hellbent on as much diversity as possible. Men’s and women’s events will be complemented by college, high school, flag rugby, wheelchair and physical disability matches.

Oliphant and Lucas have shared resources in the hope that others will join them in creating a circuit where sponsorship, media, travel and community integration opportunities can be maximised as it has in many other international sports.

Expansion across the pond is high on the agenda, with England playing New Zealand in a full international in Denver last season in front of 19,320.

Toronto Wolfpack are now in their third season in the professional rugby league ranks, and could be joined next season by teams in Ottawa and New York.

But plans to hold the 2025 World Cup in North America have been scrapped due to financial concerns, linked to missing payments following the Denver test.