Australian Rugby Championship
|No. of teams||8|
|Last champion(s)||Central Coast Rays (1st title)|
|Most titles||Central Coast Rays (1 title)|
|Related competitions||Australian Provincial Championship (defunct)
Australian Rugby Shield
The Australian Rugby Championship, often abbreviated to the ARC (also known as the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship or the Mazda Championship for sponsorship reasons), was a domestic Rugby union football club competition in Australia which ran for only one season in August–October 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: two from Queensland, three from New South Wales and one each from Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia and Victoria.
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).
On 10 December 2013, Bill Pulver, the CEO of the Australian Rugby Union announced a new national competition along similar lines; with 8 - 10 teams in "major population centres" called the National Rugby Championship 
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. 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. In September an ARU board meeting gave the competition an official green light. 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.
|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|
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. 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). 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.
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. 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.
It was also planned that each team would have one "marquee" footballer not be subject to financial restrictions of the player contracting protocol. 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.
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. The laws were implemented in both the Sydney and Brisbane club competitions and were well received.
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.
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. 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. The previous time that the ABC covered elite level rugby was for the 1991 Rugby World Cup (which Australia also won).
|10/08/2007||Sydney Fleet||25||Central Coast Rays||19||North Sydney Oval||3547|
|10/08/2007||Perth Spirit||21||Western Sydney Rams||13||Members Equity Stadium||3643|
|11/08/2007||Canberra Vikings||27||Melbourne Rebels||32||Manuka Oval||4355|
|12/08/2007||East Coast Aces||27||Ballymore Tornadoes||21||Gold Coast Stadium||2490|
|17/08/2007||Perth Spirit||8||Canberra Vikings||17||Members Equity Stadium||5111|
|18/08/2007||Central Coast Rays||30||Western Sydney Rams||39||Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium||3201|
|18/08/2007||Melbourne Rebels||34||East Coast Aces||24||Olympic Park Stadium||4875|
|19/08/2007||Ballymore Tornadoes||26||Sydney Fleet||20||Ballymore Stadium||3389|
|25/08/2007||Sydney Fleet||35||Perth Spirit||25||North Sydney Oval||2306|
|26/08/2007||Canberra Vikings||53||Ballymore Tornadoes||8||Manuka Oval||3682|
|26/08/2007||East Coast Aces||15||Central Coast Rays||44||Gold Coast Stadium||1010|
|26/08/2007||Western Sydney Rams||31||Melbourne Rebels||10||Parramatta Stadium||2016|
|31/08/2007||Melbourne Rebels||39||Sydney Fleet||20||Olympic Park Stadium||3286|
|01/09/2007||Western Sydney Rams||25||Ballymore Tornadoes||7||Parramatta Stadium||1601|
|02/09/2007||Central Coast Rays||19||Perth Spirit||31||Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium||2013|
|02/09/2007||East Coast Aces||35||Canberra Vikings||34||Gold Coast Stadium||784|
|07/09/2007||Central Coast Rays||29||Ballymore Tornadoes||10||Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium||2421|
|08/09/2007||Perth Spirit||24||Melbourne Rebels||3||Members Equity Stadium||3712|
|09/09/2007||Canberra Vikings||56||Sydney Fleet||29||Canberra Stadium||2017|
|09/09/2007||East Coast Aces||20||Western Sydney Rams||44||Gold Coast Stadium|
|15/09/2007||Perth Spirit||60||East Coast Aces||15||Members Equity Stadium||3117|
|15/09/2007||Sydney Fleet||24||Western Sydney Rams||17||North Sydney Oval||3241|
|16/09/2007||Canberra Vikings||13||Central Coast Rays||17||Manuka Oval||3714|
|16/09/2007||Ballymore Tornadoes||25||Melbourne Rebels||34||Ballymore Stadium||1478|
|22/09/2007||Melbourne Rebels||7||Central Coast Rays||55||Olympic Park Stadium|
|22/09/2007||Western Sydney Rams||51||Canberra Vikings||17||Parramatta Stadium||2139|
|23/09/2007||Ballymore Tornadoes||17||Perth Spirit||21||Ballymore Stadium|
|23/09/2007||Sydney Fleet||40||East Coast Aces||7||North Sydney Oval||1536|
|29/09/2007||Ballymore Tornadoes||66||East Coast Aces||20||Ballymore Stadium|
|29/09/2007||Western Sydney Rams||19||Perth Spirit||20||Parramatta Stadium||1612|
|30/09/2007||Central Coast Rays||55||Sydney Fleet||19||Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium||1658|
|30/09/2007||Melbourne Rebels||11||Canberra Vikings||0||Olympic Park Stadium||1753|
|06/10/2007||2nd - Central Coast Rays||27||3rd - Perth Spirit||19||Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium||1818|
|07/10/2007||1st - Western Sydney Rams||3||4th - Melbourne Rebels||23||Parramatta Stadium||1512|
|13 October 2007||Central Coast Rays||20||Melbourne Rebels||12||Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium||1,189|
(< 7 point loss)
|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|
|8||East Coast Aces||8||2||0||6||163||343||-180||3||0||11|
- Bonus points are won by scoring 4 tries in a game and/or losing by a margin within 7 points.
- Australia national rugby union team
- Australian Provincial Championship (APC) (defunct)
- Australian Rugby Shield (ARS)
- Super Rugby
- "ARC scrapped after $4.7m loss". FoxSports. 18 December 2007. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2007.
- ARU Media Unit (10 December 2013). "National Rugby Championship set to excite fans and develop elite players in 2014 and beyond". www.rugby.com.au. Australian Rugby Union. Archived from the original on 4 February 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- "Rugby Workshop agrees to a new eight-team National Rugby Competition". rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 24 Sep 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
- "Power clubs to oppose national competition". Rugbyheaven.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2006.
- "National comp given green light". rugbyheaven.smh.com.au. Archived from the original on 15 September 2006. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
- "Fixture". rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 1 June 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
- "ARU Board approves National Competition". Rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 25 October 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2006.
- "Competition FAQs". qru.com.au. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
- "Mazda Australian Rugby Championship to Go All The Way with Law Changes". rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 25 October 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
- Payten, Iain (19 December 2007). "Poidevin, Dempsey square off over Championship 'farce'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 December 2007.
- "ABC to Broadcast Australian Rugby Championship.". Super14.com. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
|Wikinews has related news: National Rugby Competition to kick off in Australia|
- Australian Rugby Championship on Rugby.com.au
- Australian Rugby Championship on PrimeRugby.com
- Research supports move to National Competition
- "ARC FAQs". QRU. Archived from the original on 8 October 2006.