It was a rough start to the 2020 NRL season in Australia, after Covid-19 saw fixtures postponed indefinitely back in March. Fast forward a grim couple of months for sports fans and the National Rugby League is back, with matches resuming on May 28. Best of all, it’s easy to follow all 20 rounds of action of the regular season – and get excited about the the finals series and ultimately the NRL Grand Final. Read on as we explain how to watch the NRL live and stream every fixture online in 2020 – including for free – no matter where you are in the world.
NRL 2020 cheat sheet
As a quick primer, the NRL is the top-tier rugby league competition in Australia and features 15 teams for all over the continent – and one from New Zealand. For die-hard fans in Australia, knowing how to watch the NRL online is more important than every now, as stadiums will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future. But even if you can’t attend in person, it’s a relief to have rugby league full stop.
This year’s reigning champions – or ‘premiers’ – are the Sydney Roosters, and they’ll definitely be putting up a fierce defence of their crown. In 2019, they made history by becoming the first team to win back-to-back NRL titles since the inception of the unified league, and it represented an 18th premiership rugby league trophy for the club overall. Can they pull of a three-peat this season?
One of the teams likely to stand in their way are local rivals the South Sydney Rabbitohs. This Roosters vs the Rabbitohs is the fiercest rivalry in all of Aussie rugby league football, dating back to the foundation of both clubs in 1908 as part of the now defunct New South Wales Rugby Leage, or NSWRL. Over the years, the Bunnies have won a total of 21 premierships, putting them ahead of the Roosters. But in NRL, it’s the Tri-Colors who lead the way with four titles compared to the Rabbitohs’ single championship.
In 2019, the Rabbitohs had the upper hand over the Roosters in the regular season, but the Easts delivered when in counted in the qualifying final and beat their rivals by a dominant score of 30-6.
At the end of the regular season, the eight highest placed sides advance to the playoff-style NRL finals series, which whittles the league’s best teams down to just two. They then compete in the NRL Grand Final, which is one of the world’s highest attended sporting events.
Read on to find out to watch the NRL and live stream every fixture of the Australian rugby league action from anywhere.
How to watch the NRL: live stream in Australia for free
Free-to-air TV coverage of the NRL is limited to just three games a week in Australia and it can vary state-by-state as to what’s being shown on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights on Channel 9. However, those that are aired will be able to be live streamed using the network’s companion 9Now service – and they tend to be the biggest fixtures of the week, so it’s no bad thing.
For those who want more comprehensive coverage (which we suspect is many people), we rate over-the-top service Kayo Sports as the best way to live stream the NRL from Down Under. It lets you watch every single NRL match across the entire regular season – and of course all the final series and Grand Final action. It’s also cheap, offering the choice of a $25 per month basic package or $35 a month premium offering. The only difference between the two is the amount of screens you can stream to simultaneously – two on Kayo basic and three on Kayo premium.
We probably don’t need to point out, but if you’ve got mates who are also into NRL (and we’re betting you do) both of these deals break down very affordably on a per person basis. Better still, Kayo Sports is contract-free and offer a 14-day FREE TRIAL so you can check it out for yourself, no strings attached. It’s available on nearly all modern devices including Android and iOS mobiles, Macs, PC, Chromecast, select smart TVs and Android TVs, PCs and Macs, and Telstra TV boxes, with console support listed as “coming soon”.
The other option to watch NRL in Australia is via Foxtel, a premium TV offering that offers comprehensive rugby league coverage on Fox Sports but is considerably more expensive than Kayo – and requires you to sign on for a 12-month plan.
Match times vary but are typically in the evening local time in Australia.
How to watch the NRL live from abroad
Watching the NRL in Australia is easy, but what about in other countries around the world where the excellent Kayo Sports service isn’t available?
There’s no need to miss a second of the Aussie rugby league action, thanks to Watch NRL – a global subscription service that will give you access to every single NRL match this season. Available whether you’re in Boston, Birmingham or Bangkok, the league’s official streaming service can be had on weekly, monthly and annual deals – of which the latter represents the best value.
Here’s how Watch NRL is priced in various footy loving places around the world – or rather, various places where footy loving Aussies are likely to find themselves wanting to watch the NRL 2020 season.
- Weekly: US$17 / £13 / €17 – GET PLAN
- Monthly: US$33 / £25 / €33 – GET PLAN
- Annual: US$165 / £130 / €155 – GET PLAN
Note that it’s not available in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands – so let’s look at some other NRL live stream options around the world.
How to watch the NRL in New Zealand: live stream details for the 2020 season
While rugby union is the dominant code in New Zealand, league footy is becoming increasingly popular – not least because New Zealand now has its own NRL team in the Warriors. You can follow them and all the action in New Zealand on Sky Sports, which means customers can stream the NRL on a wide range of devices via the Sky Go app.
Alternatively, watch the NRL on-the-go without a Sky Sports with a Sky Sports Now pass (formerly Fan Pass). This standalone streaming service gets you access to Sky Sports channels 1-4 and can be had for $59 a month – or $39 a month if you sign up for six months.
Kiwis who subscribe to one of Sky’s services but find themselves abroad for the next big Warriors match may find that they’re unable to access their usual coverage thanks to geo-blocking – however, you can use a good Virtual Private network service such as our recommendation, ExpressVPN, to easily (and legally) get around this by pointing your device back to your home island.
NRL fans in the UK have the option of the Watch NRL service, which gives you streaming access to all the footy – every single match – for just £13 a month. It’s a good choice for real NRL diehards, but for everyone else, Sky Sports is now airing a whole load of NRL coverage live on TV (eight matches on the restart weekend!) in the absence of its normal UK sporting schedule.
If you don’t subscribe to Sky but want to tune in, fear not, as you can simply purchase a Sky Sports pass from Now TV with daily, weekly and monthly options all available off contract – from just £5.99 a month for a mobile-only pass.
This is an especially good offer as live sport seems to be slowly creeping back, and more leagues will hopefully be returning to Sky Sports alongside the NRL soon.
How to watch the NRL: live stream Aussie rugby league in the US
Fox Sports has the rights to the NRL in the US and shows three featured matches a week throughout the regular season, before switching to full coverage of the final series and Grand Final. However, for those who don’t want to cough up for a costly premium TV contract, Watch NRL is again your go-to service for streaming the NRL from abroad as is priced at a very reasonable $17 a month for every single game.
Live stream the NRL: How to watch in Canada
Canadian NRL fans are pretty spoilt for choice, as the excellent Watch NRL option is joined by a national viewing option, Sportnet World. As well as coverage of Aussie league rugby, it also throws in coverage of UK Super League and Premiership rugby, making it a great option for all round fans of the sport in the Great White North.
Contact your local cable or satellite TV provider to learn more and add it your package and you should get access to companion streaming service SN Now at no extra cost – though those only interested in streaming can sign up for SN Now on a standalone, contract-free basis. You’ll need the premium SN Now+ offering to get all the rugby, though.
How to watch the NRL live from outside your country
Australians who subscribe to a service like Kayo but find themselves abroad for the next big NRL clash will probably find it’s down to a geo-blocking restriction. When this is the case, the simplest and most reliable solution is to use a VPN service to change your IP address to a difference location.
This will generally let you tune in to your local coverage, just as you would from home, and means you don’t have to trawl the sketchier corners of the internet for an illegal stream.
Our software experts have test more than 100 VPNs and it’s ExpressVPN that comes out on top. There are plenty of reasons why, but the main factors are its speed, security and simplicity to use – you can get started in no time at all.
We also like the fact that you can try it out effectively for free, thanks to its 30 day money-back guarantee. You can use it with loads of devices at once including Smart TVs, Fire TV Stick, PC, Mac, iPhone, Android phone, iPads, tablets etc. And if you subscribe to ExpressVPN now, you’ll also get 49% off the usual price as well as 3 months extra FREE.
VPNs are ridiculously easy to set up and use and aren’t just for watching the NRL abroad – they’re a great first line of defence for your online activity and many people use them to get around other geo-blocked websites or to access foreign Netflix content.