National Rugby League (NRL) games will be played outside Oceania for the first time when Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium plays host to a double-header at the start of next season.
Brisbane Broncos, Manly Sea Eagles, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters are the four teams selected to compete in the first round of 2024 NRL Telstra Premiership matches planned for the US entertainment capital.
The two matches, to be played at the 65,000-seat home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, will be the centrepiece of a week’s worth of events focussed on promoting Australia and the sport of rugby league to the US market.
According to reports, the games will kick off on Saturday, March 2, allowing the broadcast to be beamed back to Australia on Sunday afternoon.
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement: “The 2024 Las Vegas matches will form part of an exciting ‘Australia Week’ in Las Vegas where we will be showcasing rugby league and Australia to the US market.
“We are now working collaboratively with the four clubs to finalise arrangements for the proposed matches in Las Vegas and make this a blockbuster event for fans by maximising travel, attendance and enjoyment of a unique rugby league experience.
“Rugby league will be on a stage which the sport has simply never been on before and we look forward to giving all clubs the opportunity in coming years.”
All interested NRL clubs were asked to submit a business case as to why they should be chosen for the Vegas trip, with the league ultimately picking three from Sydney, as well as the Brisbane-based Broncos. It is believed the bids submitted by the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles were assisted by their links with Hollywood stars Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman respectively.
This will be South Sydney’s second foray into playing games in the US, having played in an exhibition match against the Leeds Rhinos in January 2008 at Jacksonville Florida’s Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida.
Rabbitohs chief executive Blake Solly said: “We’re confident that we can develop a strong fan and Member base off the back of this Las Vegas event in February and March next year and we look forward to growing our Club and the sport internationally alongside the Sea Eagles, Roosters and the Broncos.”
Earlier this week it was confirmed that Perth’s Optus Stadium will play host to the NRL’s State of Origin Series between Queensland and New South Wales for both the 2025 and 2028 series. The move to lock in Perth for 2025 and 2028 is in line with the NRL’s policy of one neutral venue and one home venue for each of the states in the three-match series. The showpiece event was played in Adelaide, South Australia in 2023 and will be played in Melbourne, Victoria in 2024 and 2026.