2017 National Rugby Championship

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2017 National Rugby Championship
Date 2 September – 11 November
Champions Queensland Country (1st title)
Runners-up Canberra Vikings
Matches played 39
Official website
www.rugby.com.au/competitions/nrc
← 2016
2018 →

The 2017 National Rugby Championship was the fourth season of Australia's National Rugby Championship. It involved nine professional rugby union teams, one more than the previous year, with eight teams from Australia and one team from Fiji.

The two leading teams in the regular season, Canberra Vikings and Queensland Country, went on to play in the championship final. The deciding match, played at Viking Park in Canberra, was won 42–28 by Queensland Country to claim their first NRC title.[1]

Teams[edit]

A major change made for the 2017 season was the inclusion of the Fijian Drua in the competition. Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama met with the Australian Rugby Union, and World Rugby earlier in the year about establishing a pathway for developing Fijian rugby players. World Rugby financed the Fijian Drua.[2]

The nine teams for the season included three from New South Wales, two from Queensland, and one each from Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Western Australia, and Fiji:

Region Team Coach(es) Captain(s) Refs
FJI Fijian Drua Fiji Senirusi Seruvakula Fiji John Stewart [3][4]
ACT Canberra Vikings Australia Tim Sampson Australia Tom Cusack [5]
NSW NSW Country Eagles Australia Darren Coleman Australia Paddy Ryan [6]
Greater Sydney Rams Australia John Manenti Australia Jed Holloway [7][8]
Sydney Rays Australia Julian Huxley Australia Damien Fitzpatrick [9][10]
QLD Brisbane City Australia Mick Heenan Australia Andrew Ready [11][12]
Queensland Country New Zealand Brad Thorn Australia Duncan Paia'aua [13][14]
VIC Melbourne Rising Australia Zane Hilton Australia Steve Cummins [15][16]
WA Perth Spirit South Africa Kevin Foote New Zealand Michael Ruru [17][18]

Home match venues scheduled for the 2017 NRC season:

Region Team Match Venue Capacity City
FJI Fijian Drua Churchill Park 18,000 Lautoka
Lawaqa Park 12,000 Sigatoka
National Stadium 15,000 Suva
ACT Canberra Vikings Viking Park 8,000 Canberra
NSW NSW Country Eagles Bellevue Oval 3,000 Armidale
Simon Poidevin Oval 3,000 Goulburn
Wade Park 8,000 Orange
Scully Park 11,000 Tamworth
Greater Sydney Rams T G Millner Field 8,000 Sydney
Sydney Rays Macquarie University 3,000
Pittwater Park 10,000
QLD Brisbane City Ballymore 18,000 Brisbane
UQ Rugby Club 3,000
Wests Bulldogs 3,000
Queensland Country Bond University 5,000 Gold Coast
North Ipswich Reserve 5,500 Ipswich
Noosa Dolphins Club 3,000 Noosa
Sports Ground 9,000 Toowoomba
VIC Melbourne Rising Holmesglen Reserve 3,000 Melbourne
Frankston Park 8,000
WA Perth Spirit UWA Rugby Club 4,000 Perth

Television coverage and streaming[edit]

Two of the NRC matches each weekend were broadcast live via Fox Sports, with the remaining matches shown on the Fox Sports streaming platform.[19] Discussion of the NRC competition was included on Fox Sports' review show NRC Extra Time on Monday nights, and the Kick & Chase program on Tuesday evenings.

Experimental Law Variations[edit]

The trialed changes to the point scoring system adopted in previous years were not continued for the 2017 NRC season, and scoring reverted to the standard values of five points for a try, two for a conversion and three for a penalty or drop goal.[20]

The remaining law variations used in 2016 were retained for the 2017 season.[21] Also adopted were World Rugby's six amendments to the program of trial laws for 2017,[20] relating to the tackle/ruck (Law 15.4 (c), 16, and 16.4 variations) and scrum (Law 20, 20.5 (d), and 20.9 (b) variations).[22][23]

NRC Law Variations 2017
Existing Law of the Game [24] Variation
Law 5.7(e)
If time expires and the ball is not dead, or an awarded scrum or lineout has not been completed, the referee allows play to continue until the next time that the ball becomes dead. The ball becomes dead when the referee would have awarded a scrum, lineout, an option to the non-infringing team, drop out or after a conversion or successful penalty kick at goal. If a scrum has to be reset, the scrum has not been completed. If time expires and a mark, free kick or penalty kick is then awarded, the referee allows play to continue.
Non-offending team is allowed to kick the ball into touch after being awarded a penalty kick, which has been blown after time expires, and the lineout will take place.
Law 9.B.1(e)
The kicker must take the kick within one minute and thirty seconds (ninety seconds) from the time a try has been awarded. The player must take the kick within one minute and thirty seconds even if the ball rolls over and has to be placed again.
Time limit reduced to 60 seconds for conversion kicks, and 45 seconds for penalty kicks.
Law 15.4 (c)
The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then may play the ball from any direction.

Sanction: Penalty kick

The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their own side of the tackle “gate”.

Rationale: To make the tackle/ruck simpler for players and referees and more consistent with the rest of that law.
Law 16
Definitions
A ruck is a phase of play where one or more players from each team, who are on their feet, in physical contact, close around the ball on the ground. Open play has ended.

Players are rucking when they are in a ruck and using their feet to try to win or keep possession of the ball, without being guilty of foul play.

A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created. Players on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives, no hands can be used.
Law 16.4
Other ruck offences
A player must not kick the ball out of a ruck. The player can only hook it in a backwards motion.
Law 17.2(d)
Keeping players on their feet. Players in a maul must endeavour to stay on their feet. The ball carrier in a maul may go to ground providing the ball is available immediately and play continues.
Greater policing of this law, in order to discourage "hold up tackles", by ensuring that the tackler, who holds up a ball carrier in an effort to form a maul, does not collapse the maul as soon as it has formed.
Law 19.2(d)
For a quick throw-in, the player must use the ball that went into touch. A quick throw-in is not permitted if another person has touched the ball apart from the player throwing it in and an opponent who carried it into touch. The same team throws into the lineout.
Players will be allowed to take quick throw-ins regardless of whether someone else has touched the ball
Law 19.6
The player taking the throw-in must stand at the correct place. The player must not step into the field of play when the ball is thrown. The ball must be thrown straight, so that it travels at least 5 metres along the line of touch before it first touches the ground or touches or is touched by a player.
Latitude will be given to the throwing team if the opposing team does not compete for the ball near where the ball is received
Law 20
Definitions
… A scrum is formed in the field of play when eight players from each team, bound together in three rows for each team, close up with their opponents so that the heads of the front rows are interlocked. This creates a tunnel into which a scrum half throws the ball so that front row players can compete for possession by hooking the ball with either of their feet …
Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front-row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in must strike for the ball.

Rationale: To promote a fair contest for possession.

Sanction: Free-kick
Law 20.5(d)
Throwing the ball into the scrum
No Delay. As soon as the front rows have come together, the scrum half must throw in the ball without delay. The scrum half must throw in the ball when told to do so by the referee. The scrum half must throw in the ball from the side of the scrum first chosen.


Sanction: Free Kick

No signal from referee. The scrum-half must throw the ball in straight, but is allowed to align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing them to stand a shoulder width towards their own side of the middle line.

Rationale: To promote scrum stability, a fair contest for possession while also giving the advantage to the team throwing in.
Law 20.9 (b)
All players: Handling in the scrum. Players must not handle the ball in the scrum or pick it up with their legs.

Sanction: Penalty kick
The number eight shall be allowed to pick the ball from the feet of the second-rows.

Rationale: To promote continuity.
Law 21.2(a)
The kicker must take the penalty or free kick at the mark or anywhere behind it on a line through the mark.
Increased latitude will be given to where penalty and free kicks are to be taken
Competition rule - Bonus point awarded for scoring 4 tries Bonus point awarded if winning team scores 3 or more tries than their opponents.

This particular system has been used in France's professional leagues since the 2007–08 northern hemisphere season.[25][26]
Television match official protocols Television match official to only be consulted about tries and in-goal plays.

Regular season[edit]

The nine teams played in a round-robin for the regular season, each team having four matches at home and four away. The top four teams qualified for the semi-finals with the respective winner meeting in the final.[27]

During this section of the tournament, teams also played for the Horan-Little Shield, a trophy that the holder must offer for challenge at all home games, whereby the match winner becomes the new shield holder. The holder may also optionally accept or offer challenges at any of their away games, or even finals matches.

Standings[edit]

National Rugby Championship
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TB LB Pts
1 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings 8 6 0 2 353 186 +167 3 2 29
2 Queensland Queensland Country 8 6 0 2 316 204 +112 4 1 29
3 Fiji Fijian Drua 8 4 0 4 261 245 +16 4 2 22
4 Western Australia Perth Spirit HL 8 4 0 4 269 237 +32 2 2 20
5 New South Wales NSW Country Eagles 8 4 1 3 219 217 +2 1 1 20
6 Queensland Brisbane City 8 4 1 3 281 291 –10 2 0 20
7 New South Wales Greater Sydney Rams 8 3 0 5 248 319 –71 1 0 13
8 New South Wales Sydney Rays 8 3 0 5 238 322 –84 1 0 13
9 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising 8 1 0 7 193 357 –164 0 0 4
Updated: 29 October 2017

Source: rugbyarchive.net
 • Teams 1 to 4 (Green background) at the end of the preliminary competition rounds qualify for the Title play-offs.
HL denotes the holder of the Horan-Little Shield.

Four points for a win, two for a draw, and no points for a bye.
One bonus point for the winning team scoring three or more tries than their opponent (TB), one bonus point for losing by seven or less (LB).
If teams are level on points in the standings at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:[Table notes 1]
 • Difference between points for and against
 • Match result between tied teams
 • Total number of tries scored in the competition

  1. ^ McKay, Brett. "NRC tie breaker method". Green and Gold Rugby. Archived from the original on 8 October 2016. 

Competition rounds[edit]

All kick-offs listed are in local time.

Round 1[edit]

Bye/s: Sydney Rays

Round 2[edit]

Bye/s: NSW Country Eagles

Round 3[edit]

Bye/s: Queensland Country

Round 4[edit]

Bye/s: Brisbane City

Round 5[edit]

Bye/s: Greater Sydney Rams

Round 6[edit]

Pasifika Round

Bye/s: Perth Spirit

Round 7[edit]

Bye/s: Fijian Drua

Round 8[edit]

Bye/s: Canberra Vikings

Round 9[edit]

Bye/s: Melbourne Rising

Finals[edit]

The top four sides in the regular season advanced to the semifinals of the knock-out stage, which was followed by the final to decide the National Rugby Championship title.

Semi-finals Final
      
1 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings 40
4 Western Australia Perth Spirit 35
Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings 28
Queensland Queensland Country 42
2 Queensland Queensland Country 57
3 Fiji Fijian Drua 21

Semi-finals[edit]

4 November 2017 Canberra Vikings 40–35 Perth Spirit Viking Park, Canberra  
16:00 AEDT Try: Valetini 24' c
Sione 31' c, Muirhead 34' c
Lloyd 56' c, Banks 67' m
Hawera 71' c
Con: Hawera (5/6) 25', 32', 36',
57', 72'
Report Try: Arnold (3) 3' c, 28' c, 40+2' c
Rangi 46' c
Malolo 74' c
Con: Grant (5/5) 4', 29', 40+3',
47', 74'
Cards: Koteka Temporarily suspended from 69' to 79' 69' to 79'
Attendance: 1,500
Referee: Damon Murphy
5 November 2017 Queensland Country 57–21 Fijian Drua Sports Ground, Toowoomba  
14:00 AEST Try: Timu (2) 5' c, 28' c
Paia'aua (2) 17' c, 72' m
Tupou (2) 37' m, 59' c
Feauai-Sautia 43' c
James 49' m, Nabuli 78' c
Con: Tuttle (5/8) 6', 18', 29', 44', 60'
Daugunu (1/1) 79'
Report Try: Rarawa (3) 34' c, 36' c, 53' c
Con: Waqatabu (3/3) 35', 47, 54'
Cards: Tawake Temporarily suspended from 26' to 36' 26' to 36'
Mawi Temporarily suspended from 65' to 75' 65' to 75'
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Will Houston

Final[edit]

11 November 2017 Canberra Vikings 28–42 Queensland Country Viking Park, Canberra  
19:30 AEDT Try: Dargaville 25' c,
Lloyd 33' c,
Valetini 37' c,
Taliauli 67' c
Con: Hawera (4/4) 25', 34',
38', 68'
Details
Report[1]
Try: Tuttle 20' c,
Daugunu (3) 43' c, 53' c, 77' c,
Paia'aua (2) 57' c, 75' c
Con: Tuttle (6/6) 21', 44',
54', 58', 76', 78'
Cards: Paia'aua Temporarily suspended from 65' to 75' 65' to 75'
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: Will Houston

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Queensland Country complete fairy tale season upsetting Canberra Vikings in NRC grand final". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 November 2017. Archived from the original on 18 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018. 
  2. ^ "NRC: Fiji to join Buildcorp NRC from 2017". Australian Rugby. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Seruvakula Appointed NRC Coach". Fiji Sun. 25 July 2017. Archived from the original on 25 July 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  4. ^ "Stewart Leads Drua". Fiji Sun. 29 August 2017. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "Canberra Vikings name squad for the 2017 National Rugby Championship season". The Canberra Times. 14 August 2017. Archived from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "Why change a winning formula? The Country Eagles coaching staff and captain confirmed for 2017". NSW Country Eagles. 17 July 2017. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  7. ^ "Rams rebranded Q&A with John Manenti". 30 August 2017. Archived from the original on 30 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "NRC Team of the week". Australian Rugby. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017. 
  9. ^ "Huxley to coach Rays". Australian Rugby. 13 July 2017. Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017. 
  10. ^ "Team announcement". twitter.com/SydneyRays. 28 August 2017. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  11. ^ "McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City squad and coaches announced for 2017 National Rugby Championship". Reds Rugby. 3 August 2017. Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2017. 
  12. ^ "Andrew Ready to captain McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City in 2017 National Rugby Championship". Reds Rugby. 28 August 2017. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  13. ^ "Brad Thorn to coach Queensland Country in National Rugby Championship". Fox Rugby. 2 August 2017. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  14. ^ "Duncan Paia'aua to captain Bond University Queensland Country in 2017 National Rugby Championship". Reds Rugby. 28 August 2017. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  15. ^ "From Rising player to coach for Pom Simona". Melbourne Rebels. 13 August 2017. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017. 
  16. ^ "Ultimate guide to the National Rugby Championship: Teams, fixtures, odds, live stream". The Herald Sun. Melbourne. 1 September 2017. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017. 
  17. ^ "Kevin Foote appointed Road Safety Perth Spirit head coach". RugbyWA. 2 August 2017. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  18. ^ "NRC 2017: Perth Spirit Season Preview". Green and Gold Rugby. 28 August 2018. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  19. ^ "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. 
  20. ^ a b McKay, Brett (28 August 2017). "What to expect from the NRC in 2017". Australian Rugby. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  21. ^ "All other law interps from previous seasons remain:". twitter.com/BMcSport. 24 August 2017. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  22. ^ "World Rugby announce six law changes". England rugby. 20 July 2017. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  23. ^ McKay, Brett (31 August 2017). "Eight-point tries are gone, but attacking focus to remain for 2017 NRC". The Roar. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017. 
  24. ^ Laws of the Game Rugby Union (PDF). World Rugby. 2017. ISBN 978-1-907506-78-9. Archived from the original (PDF 9.3 MB) on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2018. 
  25. ^ "French try out new bonus point system". Planet-Rugby.com. 27 June 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  26. ^ "Article 330, Section 3.2. Points "terrain"" (PDF). Règlements de la Ligue Nationale de Rugby 2008/2009 (in French). LNR. Chapitre 2 : Règlement sportif du Championnat de France Professionnel. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  27. ^ "Fixtures: Fiji's NRC journey begins at Ballymore". Australian Rugby. 21 July 2017. Archived from the original on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  28. ^ https://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62585
  29. ^ https://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62586
  30. ^ https://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62587
  31. ^ https://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62588
  32. ^ http://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62614
  33. ^ http://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62613
  34. ^ http://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62615
  35. ^ http://www.rugby.com.au/match-centre/247/2018/62616

External links[edit]

Team webpages[edit]