National Rugby Championship

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National Rugby Championship (NRC)
Upcoming season
2018 National Rugby Championship
National Rugby Championship logo 2017.png
Sport Rugby union
Inaugural season 2014
Number of teams 8
Country Australia
Champions Queensland Country (2017)
Most titles Brisbane City (2 titles)
Website rugby.com.au/competitions/nrc
Broadcast partner Fox Sports
Related competition

The National Rugby Championship, known as the NRC, is Australia's national professional rugby union football competition. The NRC is administered by Rugby Australia. As of 2018, it is contested by eight teams from around Australia plus one from Fiji.

The NRC is Australia's highest tier of rugby competition below Super Rugby, which also involves teams from across the Southern Hemisphere and in Japan. The National Rugby Championship is the most important club competition for Australian players following the Super Rugby season.

Format

The National Rugby Championship spans eleven weeks from late August, after the completion of the premier club rugby competitions in each state, to early November. A round-robin tournament is played over nine rounds where each team plays each other once. Each team has four home matches and four away matches with one bye. This is followed by the finals rounds consisting of two semi-final matches, contested by the top four teams, and a grand final match to determine the season's champion team and the winner of the NRC Trophy.

NRC winner's trophy, nicknamed 'The Toast Rack'.

During the round-robin section of the tournament, teams can also play for the Horan-Little Shield, a challenge trophy that is played for when a challenge is accepted or offered by the holders.

Teams

The National Rugby Championship has eight teams competing in the 2018 season:

Teams in the 2018 National Rugby Championship  (Fijian Drua not shown on map).
NRC Competition Launch in 2014 with Buildcorp MD Tony Sukkar and players from all teams.
Team  Licencees and associated clubs
Brisbane City QRU / Reds
Canberra Vikings ACT&SNSWRU / Brumbies, Tuggeranong Vikings
Fijian Drua Fiji Rugby Union
NSW Country NSW Country Rugby Union, Sydney University, Easts, Randwick
Melbourne Rising VRU / Rebels
Queensland Country QRU / Reds
Sydney Gordon, Manly, Norths, Warringah
Western Force WA / Force

Live television coverage and streaming

Two of the NRC matches each weekend are broadcast live via Fox Sports, with the remaining matches shown on the Fox Sports streaming platform.[1] Discussion of the NRC competition is included on Fox Sports' review show NRC Extra Time on Monday nights, and the Kick & Chase program on Tuesday evenings.

History

Buildcorp NRC logo used 2014–2016.

In December 2013, the ARU announced that Australia would get another tier of competition under Super Rugby in line with South Africa’s Currie Cup and New Zealand's Mitre 10 Cup (then known as ITM Cup). Eleven bids were tendered from teams wanting to participate in the tournament, with nine being accepted.[2] Applicants that were not successful were advised that they could bid again as the competition matured, as early as 2015.[3]

The National Rugby Championship followed a previous national competition, the Australian Rugby Championship, that was abandoned after the first season in 2007 due to financial losses.[4][5]

The construction company Buildcorp was the inaugural naming rights sponsor for the NRC competition,[6] with other partners including Intercontinental Hotels, Qantas, and Allianz also signed.[7] ASICS was the official apparel supplier for the first two seasons. Matches were played under approved law variations,[8] intended to increase the speed of the game.[9]

A new broadcasting deal agreed in 2015 secured the funding and future of the competition until the end of the 2020 season.[10] The competition was reduced from nine teams to eight when the ARU did not renew the NRC licence for the Sydney Stars in 2016, citing insufficient player talent to support four competitive teams in New South Wales.[11]

A team from Fiji, the Fijian Drua, joined the competition for the 2017 season.[12] For the 2018 season, the Greater Sydney Rams were dropped from the competition, leaving Sydney with just one team (the Rays).[13]

Sponsorship

The tournament is run by Rugby Australia with the sponsorship of Foxtel which provides television coverage on its Fox Sports channels.[14] Gilbert is the official supplier of all rugby balls.[6]

Player selection

Australia's Super Rugby players participate in the NRC under a capped allocation to ensure that all NRC teams have a mix of players from local development squads and club competitions, as well as those with Super Rugby experience. Australian national team players are required for Test match rugby during the NRC season, but each player is allocated to one of the NRC teams and is able to play if released from national duty.

Champions

Total wins

Team Championships Runners-up Semi-final knockouts
Queensland Brisbane City 2 (2014, 2015) 0 0
Western Australia Perth Spirit 1 (2016) 1 (2014) 1 (2017)
Queensland Queensland Country 1 (2017) 0 0
Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings 0 2 (2015, 2017) 0
New South Wales NSW Country 0 1 (2016) 1 (2014)
Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising 0 0 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)
Fiji Fijian Drua 0 0 1 (2017)
New South Wales Sydney Rays 0 0 1 (2016)
New South Wales Sydney Stars 0 0 1 (2015)

Wins by State/Territory/Nation

State/Territory Championships Runners-up Semi-final knockouts
Queensland Queensland 3 0 0
Western Australia Western Australia 1 1 1
Australian Capital Territory Australian Capital Territory 0 2 0
New South Wales New South Wales 0 1 3
Victoria (Australia) Victoria 0 0 3
Fiji Fiji 0 0 1

By year

Year # of Teams Final Semi-final knockouts
Champion Score Runner-up Higher-ranked Lower-ranked
2014 9 Brisbane City Queensland 37–26 Western Australia Perth Spirit Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising New South Wales NSW Country
2015 9 Brisbane City Queensland 21–10 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising New South Wales Sydney Stars
2016 8 Perth Spirit Western Australia 20–16 New South Wales NSW Country New South Wales Sydney Rays Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising
2017 9 Queensland Country Queensland 42–28 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings Fiji Fijian Drua Western Australia Perth Spirit

See also

References

  1. ^ "Historic 2017 NRC draw released as Fiji enters the fray". Australian Rugby (Press release). 21 July 2017. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "ARU Board approves nine team National Rugby Championship to start in August 2014". rugby.com.au (Press release). 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "SA Rugby misses out on an NRC Team". sarugby.com.au. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Australia relaunches National Rugby Championship". rugbyweek.com. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "NRC update part 1: Queensland, Perth, Melbourne and Canberra". The Roar. 8 July 2014. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Buildcorp announced as National Rugby Championship naming rights partner". Australian Rugby. 16 July 2014. Archived from the original on 16 July 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "ARU partners with Allianz for new National Rugby Championship". Australian Rugby. 20 August 2014. Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Law variation". Australian Rugby Union. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  9. ^ McKay, Brett (13 Aug 2015). "Law variations to continue in NRC Season 2". The Roar. Archived from the original on 13 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Payten, Iain (4 March 2015). "New broadcasting deal ensures future of National Rugby Championship until at least 2020". The Courier Mail. News. Archived from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Sydney Stars victims of National Rugby Championship consolidation". The Daily Telegraph. 11 February 2016. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "FRU Reveals Fiji NRC Official Name and Kit" (Press release). Fiji Rugby Union. 16 August 2017. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017. 
  13. ^ NSW to field two NRC teams in 2018 - Beth Newman, Rugby.com.au, 6 June 2018
  14. ^ McKay, Brett (15 July 2014). "NRC update part 3: All systems go for launch". The Roar. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 

External links

  • National Rugby Championship official homepage
  • NRC on Fox Sports
  • NRC Live on twitter.com

Archives

Team webpages

  • Brisbane City
  • Canberra Vikings
  • Fijian Drua
  • Melbourne Rising
  • NSW Country Eagles
  • Queensland Country
  • Sydney Rays
  • Western Force
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