Australian Rugby Championship

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Australian Rugby Championship (ARC)
ARC WhiteBG.png
Logo ARC
Sport Rugby union
Founded 2006
Inaugural season 2007
No. of teams 8
Country  Australia
Continent Oceania
Ceased 2007
Last champion(s) ARCColoursCentralCoast.jpg Central Coast Rays (1st title)
Most titles ARCColoursCentralCoast.jpg Central Coast Rays (1 title)
TV partner(s) ABC
Related competitions Australian Provincial Championship (defunct)
Australian Rugby Shield
Super Rugby

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).[1]

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 [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).

Fixtures[edit]

Round 1[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Round 2[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Round 3[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Round 4[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Round 5[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Round 6[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Round 7[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Round 8[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Semi-Finals[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
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

Grand Final[edit]

Date Home Score Away Score Venue Crowd
13 October 2007 Central Coast Rays 20 Melbourne Rebels 12 Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium 1,189

Ladder[edit]

2007 ARC Ladder
Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points Diff. Bonus
(4 tries)
Bonus
(< 7 point loss)
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
  • Bonus points are won by scoring 4 tries in a game and/or losing by a margin within 7 points.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "ARC scrapped after $4.7m loss". FoxSports. 18 December 2007. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2007. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ a b "Power clubs to oppose national competition". Rugbyheaven.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2006. 
  5. ^ "National comp given green light". rugbyheaven.smh.com.au. Archived from the original on 15 September 2006. Retrieved 21 February 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c "Fixture". rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 1 June 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007. 
  7. ^ "ARU Board approves National Competition". Rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 25 October 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2006. 
  8. ^ "Competition FAQs". qru.com.au. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007. 
  9. ^ a b "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. 
  10. ^ Payten, Iain (19 December 2007). "Poidevin, Dempsey square off over Championship 'farce'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 December 2007. 
  11. ^ "ABC to Broadcast Australian Rugby Championship.". Super14.com. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2007. 

External links[edit]