Australian Rugby Championship

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Australian Rugby Championship
ARC WhiteBG.png
Sport Rugby Union football
Inaugural season 2007   (first and only)
Number of teams 8
Country Australia
Last champions ARCColoursCentralCoast.jpg Central Coast Rays (2007)
Broadcast partner ABC
Related competition

The Australian Rugby Championship, often abbreviated to the ARC (also known as the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship for sponsorship purposes), is a now-defunct domestic professional men's Rugby union football competition in Australia, which ran for only one season in 2007. The competition, similar to New Zealand's ITM Cup and South Africa's Currie Cup, aimed to bridge the gap between existing club rugby and the international Super Rugby competition then known as Super 14. The ARC involved eight teams: three from New South Wales, two from Queensland, and one each from the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

From its inception the ARC divided many in Australian rugby, with arguments over the structure and format of the competition and concerns that the creation of arbitrary state-based teams undermined the strong club competitions in Sydney and Brisbane. On 18 December 2007, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced that the ARC would be scrapped due to financial losses of A$4.7 million (US$4.0 million, 2.8 million, £2.0 million).[1]

On 10 December 2013, Bill Pulver, the CEO of the Australian Rugby Union announced a new competition along similar lines, the National Rugby Championship, to include 8–10 teams in "major population centres".[2]

History[edit]

The official announcement on the agreement of a national rugby competition in Australia was made in mid-2006, following a 70-person three-day summit in Sydney that agreed to an eight team competition.[3] However, the competition was not without its share of controversy, with some of the clubs being against the forming of a new level of competition, claiming it could harm club and grass roots rugby.[4] In September an ARU board meeting gave the competition an official green light.[5] A month later the competition kicked off for its inaugural year, the Queensland teams performed poorly as the East Coast Aces & Ballymore Tornadoes finished last & second last respectively. The Perth Spirit performed the best out of the regular rounds winning 6 out of 8 games although due to bonus points finished third on the ladder behind Central Coast Rays & the competitions first minor-premiers the Western Sydney Rams. After the top four teams took part in the semi-finals the Melbourne Rebels and Central Coast Rays would compete in the first ever ARC Grand Final. The Rays took out the competition defeating the Melbourne side 20 - 12.

A review of the tournament was undertaken following the 2007 season. This review found that the competition had run at more than $2 million over budget and that forecast losses for the 2008 season came to a further $3.3 million. The ARU says that the cumulative loss of $8 million over two years would be fiscally irresponsible.[1]

Year Final Losing semi-finalists
Winner Score Runner-up 1st losing semi-finalist 2nd losing semi-finalist
2007 Central Coast Rays 20 - 12 Melbourne Rebels Perth Spirit Western Sydney Rams

Format[edit]

Competition[edit]

The competition ran for eight weeks, with finals being competed over an additional two weeks - each side played eight games, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals where the winners move into the final.[6] The competition kicked off in August, after the Super 14 and the March to July club competitions finished, and avoiding a clash with Australian under-19 and under-21 duties and the Pacific Nations Cup (in which Australia A played).[6] In total, 35 matches were played in the ARC over 10 weeks from 11 August and 14 October, with games played on Fridays and Sundays. It was originally planned that games would not be played at 'traditional' times for rugby matches, but this decision was changed when the ABC insisted that its televised games be played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The inaugural final was played between the Central Coast Rays and the Melbourne Rebels in Gosford.[6]

Players[edit]

The timeframe of the season ensured the availability of Super 14 players (excluding Wallabies). There was no draft, and players were free to choose their team, although there was a salary cap in place.[4] Players came from local competitions (which includes Super 14 players). Each Super 14 franchise was aligned with the respective teams, except for Melbourne, as Victoria had no Super rugby team at the time.

It was planned that although 35 footballers will be on international duty for the Wallabies, over 90 Super 14 players would go into the ARC, leaving the way for over 120 footballers to step up from first grade club competitions.[7]

It was also planned that each team would have one "marquee" footballer not be subject to financial restrictions of the player contracting protocol.[8] The player could be either foreign or a non-contracted domestic footballer, and if a team signed an Australian as their marquee footballer, they would still be able to sign up a foreign footballer, though they would have to fit within the contract restrictions.

Rules[edit]

The ARU announced in June 2007 that the inaugural championship would adopt the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs), which were initially trialled at South Africa's Stellenbosch University and which aim to bring more free-flowing play into the game.[9] The laws were implemented in both the Sydney and Brisbane club competitions and were well received.[9]

Referees[edit]

The referees supplied for the tournament predominantly come from the Australian Rugby Union Panels.

Referees for the tournament included: Matt Goddard, James Leckie, James Scholtens, George Ayoub, Daniel Cheever, Brett Bowden, Andrew Lindsay and Geoff Acton.

Stuart Dickinson and Paul Marks did not referee in the tournament, as they refereed at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

Media coverage[edit]

The championship was broadcast on free to air television during its only season. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) "secured" the rights to exclusively televise the competition from 2007 through to 2009 by agreeing to accept a substantial fee from the ARU in order to cover the matches.[10] The fact that the sport's governing organisation had to pay a television station to broadcast the game arguably has worrying implications for a code struggling to attract mainstream interest in Australia. The ABC committed to broadcast 19 matches during the season on ABC1 and ABC2: two matches from each round, plus the semi-finals and the final.[11] The previous time that the ABC covered elite level rugby was for the 1991 Rugby World Cup (which Australia also won).

Regular season 2007[edit]

The eight teams played four home games and four away games each during the preliminary competition rounds, consisting of a single round-robin with each team playing each other once plus an additional return match for the "derby" fixure played in the first round (these fixtures were matches between the closest neighbouring teams in most cases). The top four teams at the end of the preliminary competition rounds qualified for the title play-offs with semi-finals and finals.

Standings[edit]

2007 Australian Rugby Championship
Pos Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1 Western Sydney Rams 8 5 0 3 239 149 +90 5 2 27
2 Central Coast Rays 8 5 0 3 268 159 +109 5 1 26
3 Perth Spirit 8 6 0 2 210 138 +72 1 0 25
4 Melbourne Rebels 8 5 0 3 170 206 −36 4 0 24
5 Sydney Fleet 8 4 0 4 212 244 −32 3 1 20
6 Canberra Vikings 8 3 0 5 217 191 +26 4 3 19
7 Ballymore Tornadoes 8 2 0 6 180 229 −49 1 2 11
8 East Coast Aces 8 2 0 6 163 343 −180 3 0 11
Updated: 30 September 2007

Source: rugbyarchive.net
 • Teams 1 to 4 (Blue background) at the end of the preliminary competition rounds qualify for the Title play-offs.

Four points for a win, two for a draw, one bonus point for four tries or more (BP1) and one bonus point for losing by seven or less (BP2).
If teams are level on points in the standings at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
 • Difference between points for and against
 • Total number of points for
 • Number of matches won
 • Aggregate number of points scored in matches between tied teams

Competition rounds[edit]

Round 1[edit]

Round 2[edit]

Round 3[edit]

Round 4[edit]

Round 5[edit]

Round 6[edit]

Round 7[edit]

Round 8[edit]

Title play-offs 2007[edit]

The top four sides in the regular season advanced to the knock-out stage of semi-finals and final to decide the Australian Rugby Championship title.

Semi-Finals[edit]

Grand Final[edit]

Players 2007[edit]

Squad lists[edit]

Team squad lists for the 2007 ARC:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]