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TOUCHDOWN! 6 mins: Manly 0-6 Bunnies

Good news for me, the Bunnies have run into the KFC end zone and score four points! This delights the travelling fans from South Sydney. But this doesn’t stop the clock and doesn’t lead to a commercial. No wonder there’s no advertising on the field. No wonder Fox took so long to put this game on in the US. Who cares, no ad revenue!

We have picture!

I am looking live at the Bunnies, who I am rooting for, and Manly! They shifted the game to FS2. Let’s go!

2nd minute: Manly almost over! Jake Trbojevic ran it on the last and Souths managed to hold him up just short of the line. Richie Kennar makes a hit and gets Souths inside the Manly half. They put it high on the last and Junior Tatola buries his man with a massive hit.


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The Bunnies and Manly are off and doing whatever it is these people do, but nobody in the US can see it! We still have basketball! Total debacle!

1st minute: Manly kick off and Tom Burgess, in his final season with Souths, charges in for the first hit-up of the day. Jai Arrow is immediately injured, looks like an ankle strain. Souths kick on the fifth and Jackson Paul, an ex-Bunny barrels back. Good yardage by the Sea Eagles.

The Rabbitohs are on the field and the Sea Eagles are running out…

NRL not on American screens, yet…

OK, there’s just under six minutes to go in regulation of this college basketball game – Georgetown are up by four if you must know. But there’s no way the game will be over by kickoff in Vegas. Zero chance. Will Fox Sports boot the basketball off? Or will we be denied our live NRL! We’ll know if just a few minutes!

The desert wind!

Apparently the crowds are light because the wind is howling on the streets of Sin City and it’s causing some of the crowd to arrive late to safe, secure and indoor Allegiant Stadium. How windy is it? This was the scene at the nearby NASCAR racing event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A bit more than a breeze.

What’s up with the field?

OK, I was told that the matchup today is Souths v Manly, but at least according to the field markings I saw earlier, it looks like KFC are the home team, since their logo is in both end zones. Which team is KFC? Assuming it’s the Sea Eagles since they’re closest to chickens.

I’ve also learned that the distances are marked in meters, not yards, so already we have a problem. Luckily I have an app that can help with this.

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, venue for the NRL Round 1 match between Manly and South Sydney. Photograph: AAP

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Our man in Vegas

Here’s a video of some American guy in an NRL jersey. Not sure which one, but he sets the scene for us as to the vibe on the city streets. Oh, and he’s not really our man, he’s just a guy I found on twitter, or x, or whatever it’s called.


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So all of you down there are apparently watching the coin toss, the national anthems, the pomp, the circumstance, etc. Me? In Brooklyn? I’m tuned into Xavier and Georgetown, a Big East men’s college basketball game. Why? Because Fox Sports 1 in the US has no NRL pregame coverage at all! On the schedule, the game starts at 2130 on the East Coast of the United States. But what happens if the basketball game isn’t done? Will I miss the kickoff? That would kind of suck, considering I am providing you with live coverage! Don’t worry, if that happens, the Guardian team in OZ have you covered and will fill you in. Meanwhile, It’s Georgetown by five with 9:53 left in the second half! Hurry up guys!


Howdy folks and welcome to our coverage of what I am told is the opening match of an opening day NRL doubleheader, live from Las Vegas!

Why is the NRL on starting off their season in an American desert? Well, the NRL, like other leagues, particularly in North America, are looking to expand their games into new markets. You may recall that a few years back the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks began their Major League baseball season at the SCG. The National Football League routinely play games in London, Germany and Mexico. The National Basketball Association bounces around Europe and Asia and even the National Hockey League skate abroad from time to time. This is all about chasing extra revenue around the globe, which is the cynical view. It also happens to be a lot of fun to watch games that count taking place in odd places. Or in this case, two different days (sort of). No complaints!

So the NRL’s big US adventure lands them on the very same hallowed grounds where Kansas City’s Travis Kelce kissed his singer girlfriend after the NFL’s Super Bowl a few weeks ago. Yes, this is big time stuff, even if some Americans at Allegiant Stadium will have little to no idea what’s going on between the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. That includes me, and I don’t even know what a Rabbitoh is, though I’m guessing it’s some kind of bunny.

Full disclosure: I am an American. My total NRL exposure includes about five minutes of watching Castleford on UK television back in 1995. Someone in England once told me that rugby union is the posh fancy sport and that rugby league is more lunchpail. I also know that rugby folks in general drink a lot and are completely crazy, or at at least they were at my upstate New York university where I was totally scared of them. But I digress…

So this will be a learning experience for sure. I’m looking forward to trying to figure out this sport, live, on the fly. I really have no idea how this will go but let’s see what happens!

I do know that kickoff, (is that what you call it?) is happening soon, so get your Foster’s and your Marmite or whatever the hell you eat and drink down there (shrimp?) and get ready for some Rugby League Football! Oh, and if you want to join the blog, and help me out with some instruction, please feel free to X at me here. Or you can email me here. Join the show, I’ll make you famous!


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As the boys from Human Nature kick into an eerie rendition of the Australian anthem before what appears to be a half-full Allegiant stadium, Angus Fontaine sends this reminder of the game within the game today…


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For those who came in late, here’s our Stateside preview of today’s grand rugby league experiment…

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans has won the toss and will run towards Caesars Palace. Souths skipper Cameron Murray will lead his side in the direction of the Palazzo.

Here are the team line-ups for today’s historic Round One fixture at Allegiant Stadium.

Sea Eagles team: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Tolutau Koula 4. Reuben Garrick 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Luke Brooks 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Josh Aloiai 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Ben Trbojevic 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Karl Lawton 15. Corey Waddell 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Nathan Brown 18. Jakob Arthur

Rabbitohs team: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Richard Kennar 5. Jacob Gagai 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Sean Keppie 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Siliva Havili 15. Jacob Host 16. Davvy Moale 17. Thomas Burgess 24. Dean Hawkins


The NRL is in Vegas, which is weird, so it seems like this is as good an opportunity to do things a little different. Manly take on Souths first up at Allegiant Stadium before the Broncos and Roosters square off in the second part of a double-header that aims to bring the game of rugby league to the masses in the US (while coining in loads of gambling cash, obviously). And we thought it was a good idea to force an NFL writer to watch the opening game and give his take on the joys of rugby league, a sport that remains a mystery to so many Stateside. Expect a mix of wonderment, awe, confusion and horror as 26 massive blokes steam into each other in a game of football “but maybe not as you know it”.

David will be with you shortly, before Jonathan, on much more familiar ground, takes over for the second game. In the meantime, here’s Russell Crowe to help first-timers understand what is about to take place:

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