National Rugby League breaks ground in US with opening weekend in Las Vegas: Here's what you need to know


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Just weeks after hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world, Allegiant Stadium will open its doors again this weekend to a different type of game that is guaranteed to attract NFL fans still looking for a thrill after Super Bowl LVIII.

The National Rugby League (NRL) will kick off its season for the first time on American soil on Saturday night, when the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos head to Las Vegas for a doubleheader at the Raiders’ stadium. 

“We’re excited to bring our games to America,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said of the campaign in December, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “West Coast is important for us because of the time zone. These are opening week Premiership matches, so we’re going to have a huge audience back in Australia. Being on the West Coast allows us to play the games on a Saturday evening here while it goes onto prime time on a Sunday back in Australia.”

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The four teams will be bringing rugby to American fans like never before in primetime. 

Read below for more information on this weekend’s matchups and the NRL. 

FOR BEGINNERS

Josh Aloiai of the Sea Eagles is tackled during the round 19 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on July 22, 2022 in Sydney. (Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Comparisons between rugby and American football can easily be made. There is an offense and a defense and no shortage of physicality – but the two sports are more distant cousins than they are members of the same nuclear family. 

For a breakdown of the rules, the NRL released a promotional video on X earlier this month narrated by Australian actor Russell Crowe.

“Arguably the fastest, most aggressive ball in hand football game that exists,” Crowe, co-owner of South Sydney, explained. 

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As explained by the “Gladiator” actor, each team has 13 players on the field with just four on the bench playing in an 80-minute game with two halves. The game is played on a 100-meter field (approximately 110 yards) with an oval-shaped ball. 

Among the notable differences include no pads, no timeouts and no forward passing, and every player can tackle, pass and kick the ball when necessary. 

Instead of four downs, teams have six tackles to attempt to move the ball forward, and there are more scoring opportunities, which range from one point to four. 

Ribbitohs players gather

Rabbitohs players look on after conceding a try during the NRL Pre-season challenge match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters at Belmore Sports Ground on Feb. 23, 2024 in Sydney. (Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

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THE BASICS

The NRL is composed of 17 teams that play 24 games across a 27-week season. The top eight teams advance to the NRL’s version of the postseason. 

The league traces its roots back to 1908 and boasts itself as the most watched programs on Australian television, according to the NRL website. The league attracts around 3 million fans each year with more than 100 million more tuning in on television. 

Cory Paix runs

Cory Paix in action during a Brisbane Broncos NRL training session at Clive Berghofer Field on Feb. 7, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

WHERE TO WATCH

Saturday night at Allegiant Stadium kicks off with a match between the Sea Eagles and the Rabbitohs at 9:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Roosters against the Broncos. Fans can tune in live on FS1 and the FOX Sports app. 

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X, and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.





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