The RFL will continue their nines competition on 7/6/11 at a series of venues across the north of England involving various established clubs and others including Cumbria. I can remember enjoying similar ventures including the British Coal nines (won by Warrington and shown on BBC 1 on Sportsnight) and the World Nines played in Fiji. It is a good showcase for our game, an excellent way of introducing newcomers and great way of spreading the word
It is hoped that nines will become a popular vehicle for the sport in the same way 20-20 has helped boost the popularity of cricket. Some clever and effective marketing will be needed to achieve this and TV coverage will be vital. I suggest that the competition should be given an international flavour rather than relying on club teams with the addition of some interesting guests e.g. Cumbria, GB Police, GB Army ... etc. It would be easy to organise teams to represent England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Australia and NZ while the participation of a selection from Italy, Germany, Serbia, Russia, Lebanon, USA, Jamaica and others would not be out of the question. Gradually widening the geographical spread of the venues should be another medium term aim.
Maybe RU and it's successful, world wide sevens tournaments a more realistic aim. Obviously NRL and SL players are involved in too many games as it is but many other RL payers throughout the world, who need not be professional players, would jump at the opportunity to represent their country in a high profile competition.
Specialist nines players could evolve in the same way that RU has specialist sevens players
I have recently read of problems faced by USA RL teams playing on smaller gridiron pitches and speculation about reducing the number of players to eleven.
Simple solution - play nines