NRL’s Las Vegas double-header season opener to be preceded by international clash

Ben Olawumi
NRL logo & Jake Arthur (Manly Sea Eagles), Adam Reynolds (Brisbane Broncos), Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters) stood in front of the Las Vegas Nevada sign

Further details of the 'Vegas Festival of Rugby League' - which ties into the NRL's season opener double-header - have emerged - Alamy

Ahead of the NRL’s historic double-header season opener in Las Vegas, the USA will host Canada in a men’s international clash.

The two bordering nations will face off at the Ed W. Clark High School on Friday, March 1 (7pm PST kick-off), with this the first meeting since November 2022 when Canada reigned supreme in Tampa.

As confirmed back in November, the following day will see Manly Sea Eagles take on South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters face Brisbane Broncos to open up the 2024 NRL season. Both of those clashes take place at the Allegiant Stadium.

Although it won’t contribute to any world ranking points, the international clash is the latest announcement for the ‘Vegas Festival of Rugby League’, with the NRL double-header the headline act.

The NRL themselves are also running a ‘Vegas 9s’ tournament from February 29 – March 1, with any male or female team from North America eligible to take part.

Elsewhere, an NFL-style ‘Combine’ will take place on March 2, the same day as the double-header, with 50 athletes taking part in a series of physical tests and skill assessments, with 25 males and 25 females selected.

At the culmination of that ‘Combine’, four of the athletes – two male and two female – will be given the chance to train with an NRL/NRLW team with the opportunity to earn a contract among Australia’s elite.

NRL’s Las Vegas double-header season opener to be preceded by international clash between USA and Canada

In the latest update to the world rankings, the USA were handed 33rd spot of 55 teams, moving up four places having beaten Jamaica 30-26 over in Kingston last month.

Speaking about the upcoming friendly clash, head coach Sean Rutgerson told the International Rugby League website: “It should be a great experience for the players to be part of such a major event and hopefully we get some good exposure.

“We look forward to putting on a great performance and continuing to the grow the game to our home audience.”

Canada meanwhile 46th, and have fallen two places, so are raring to return to action in March. The Canadian Rugby League President, John Cameron, added: “With the NRL crossing the Pacific to play in Las Vegas, we’re more than happy to partake with an international of our own.

“Our last meeting provided an entertaining and competitive match and there is a real, genuine rivalry between us that I’m sure fans will enjoy.”

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