The Auckland Nines were on Premier in the morning, they will have whetted the appetite of none but the most zealot of RL fans.
As for why RL (and the Nines) are doing well in NZ? I'd suggest a franchised NRL allowing the Warriors to aggressively market to the whole country and Kiwi success in international finals, combined with a seeming lack of direct conflict with union fans, plays its part.
I thought this event was in direct competition with a long standing RU sevens of legendary popularity and it has decimated the attendance at that to the point where they had to cut their ticket prices.
On the marketing aspect, we ought to be able to replicate that. Weave in clips of the WC semi highlights and the England 4 nations near misses, llink this with clips of the Auckland even and then push the " And now there is an opportunity to watch this at the new England nines at the location of choice, be it Millenium, Man City or wherever.
If we started with a 20,000 attendance and built from there we should be able to replicate the NZ event as a must see event.