NRL's Las Vegas move revealed in 'biggest event in rugby league history'

After a few failed attempts to crack the US market, Las Vegas could be the venue for a massive NRL first.

The NRL is looking into hosting a Las Vegas double-header to kick off the 2024 season, with Peter V'Landys and Andrew Abdo jetting to the US next month. Read more here.

The bright lights of Las Vegas will be the venue of the NRL's latest attempt to bring rugby league to the United States, with the league reportedly looking at hosting the 2024 season opener in the Nevada city. A Sin City double-header is on the cards for next year, with ARLC commissioner Peter V'Landys and NRL chief Andrew Abdo jetting to America next month to begin planning out the latest overseas venture.

The NRL and rugby league are no strangers to the US, with plans for season openers in 2019 and 2023 both looked at, but failing to get off the ground. According to the Daily Telegraph, multiple broadcasters have already been approached about the 2024 season opener.

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Despite those recent attempts to play in the US not getting up, there remains significant interest throughout the NRL to do so. South Sydney stand out thanks to owners Russell Crowe and Mike Cannon-Brooks boasting significant connections in the entertainment and business industries. The Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm and Manly are also interested.

NRL journalist Phil Rothfield described the potential overseas showcase as 'the biggest event in rugby league history', while Manly owner Scott Penn told the Daily Telegraoh he approved of the idea.

“That’s awesome – absolutely brilliant,” Penn said. “We want to be part of it for sure.

“There’s 350 million Americans who love the gladiatorial nature of NFL. They’ll love the NRL as well. It’s going to be an entertainment showcase.”

Allegiant Stadium, the home of the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders, is tipped to be the venue for the double-header should it proceed. Capable of hosting up to 65,000 fans, the stadium was built in 2020 ahead of the Raiders' move from Oakland, and at a cost of $2 billion.

The NRL is also interested in a potential agreement with either boxing promoters No Limit or the UFC, potentially surrounding a fight featuring Australian stars Tim Tszyu or Alex Volkanovski.

“We are certainly open to having talks with the NRL,” No Limit's said. “It sounds like a crazy weekend where Australia takes over Vegas. Who knows – maybe we can line up a Tim Tszyu fight at the same time.”

NRL playing the long game in USA venture

Abdo told the Sydney Morning Herald late last year that despite plans for a game in 2023 falling through, there remained a strong appetite to do so in future. The reveal that a major 2024 fixture lines up with Abdo's declaration of a long-term US strategy being in play.

“We are committed to a five-year plan to grow the NRL in the United States market and will aim to play at least one game in the US in 2024,” he said. “It is extremely important we don't rush this process.

Russell Crowe watches a South Sydney Rabbitohs game.
The Rabbitohs have interest in an NRL match in the US through owner Russell Crowe. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"It's not about playing a game there as soon as possible. This strategy needs to be about ensuring we have an ongoing presence in the US market.

"We know we have clubs on board, we have stadiums across the US available and our broadcasters and other stakeholders are very supportive of our ambitions. The Commission and I will continue to work hard on this to ensure we have a program for growth focussed on the long term.

“That's why we've decided to launch in 2024. Rushing to schedule a single game in early 2023 would not be beneficial without the five-year strategy already in place.”

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