2017 National Rugby Championship

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2017 National Rugby Championship
Date2 September – 11 November
ChampionsQueensland Country (1st title)
Runners-upCanberra Vikings
Matches played39
(average 2,013 per match)
Highest attendance8,000 (Fijian Drua vs. Perth Spirit)
Official website
← 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]


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 TG 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, Gold Coast 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
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
... 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 competition, teams also played for the Horan-Little Shield, a challenge trophy put on the line when a challenge is accepted by the holders or mandated by the terms of competition for the shield.

oints for the regular season standings were accumulated by the same method as for The Rugby Championship and Super Rugby. A slightly modified version of the standard competition points system was used, with a bonus point awarded to a winning team scoring at least 3 tries more than their opponent; and a bonus point awarded to a losing team defeated by a margin of 7 points or under.[28] Four points were awarded for a win and none for a loss; two points were awarded to each team if a match was drawn.

Each team's placement was based on its cumulative points total, including any bonus points earned. For teams level on table points, tiebreakers apply in the following order:[29]

  1. Difference between points for and against during the season.
  2. Head-to-head match result(s) between the tied teams.
  3. Total number tries scored during the season.

The top four teams at the end of the regular season qualified for the title play-offs in the form of semi-finals followed by a final to determine the champion team.[19]


National Rugby Championship
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TB LB Pts
1 Canberra Vikings 8 6 0 2 353 186 +167 3 2 29
2 Queensland Country 8 6 0 2 316 204 +112 4 1 29
3 Fijian Drua 8 4 0 4 261 245 +16 4 2 22
4 Perth Spirit HL 8 4 0 4 269 237 +32 2 2 20
5 NSW Country Eagles 8 4 1 3 219 217 +2 1 1 20
6 Brisbane City 8 4 1 3 281 291 –10 2 0 20
7 Greater Sydney Rams 8 3 0 5 248 319 –71 1 0 13
8 Sydney Rays 8 3 0 5 238 322 –84 1 0 13
9 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.

Competition rounds[edit]

All kick-offs listed are in local time.

Round 1[edit]

2 September 2017 Canberra Vikings 48–40 Queensland Country Viking Park, Canberra  
15:00 AEST Try: Robinson, Banks, Muirhead, Abel, Hyne, Powell, Penders
Con: Hawera 4
Pen: Hawera
[30] Try: Paia’aua 2, Timu, Tuttle, Scott-Young, Faagase
Con: Tuttle 4
Attendance: 1,500
Referee: Graham Cooper

2 September 2017 Brisbane City 45–36 Fijian Drua Ballymore, Brisbane  
15:00 AEST Try: Ready, Fidow 3, Tui, Gunn, Kerevi
Con: Cooper 4, Alatimu
[31] Try: Nacebe 2, Voka, Sau, Cavuilati, Reece
Con: Douglas 2, Nacebe
Cards: Yellow Cards: Mudu, Tawake
Attendance: 3,200
Referee: Damon Murphy

Horan-Little Challenge 3 September 2017 Greater Sydney Rams 44–23 NSW Country Eagles TG Millner Field, Sydney  
15:00 AEST Try: Grant, Ale, Pili-Gaitau, Tuisue, Naiyaravoro, Fuavao
Con: Mason 4
Pen: Mason 2
[32] Try: Adams 2, Kagiassis
Con: Adams
Pen: Adams 2
Attendance: 1,000
Referee: Angus Gardner

3 September 2017 Perth Spirit 45–33 Melbourne Rising UWA Rugby Club, Perth  
15:00 AWST Try: Naisarani, Faulkner 2, Cowan, Peni, Brache, Verity-Amm
Con: Lance 5
[33] Try: Tuipulotu, Koroibete 2, McGregor, Maddocks
Con: McGregor 4
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: Will Houston
Bye/s: Sydney Rays

Round 2[edit]

9 September 2017 Queensland Country 31–12 Brisbane City Dolphins RU Club, Noosa  
13:00 AEST Attendance: 2,000

9 September 2017 Melbourne Rising 24–45 Fijian Drua Harlequin Oval, Melbourne  
15:00 AEST Attendance: 2,000

10 September 2017 Canberra Vikings 33–26 Perth Spirit Viking Park, Canberra  
13:00 AEST Attendance: 500

Horan-Little Challenge 10 September 2017 Sydney Rays 26–41 Greater Sydney Rams Macquarie Uni, Sydney  
15:00 AEST Attendance: 1,500
Bye/s: NSW Country Eagles

Round 3[edit]

16 September 2017 Fijian Drua 31–14 NSW Country Eagles Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka  
15:00 FJT Attendance: 4,000+

16 September 2017 Sydney Rays 48–28 Melbourne Rising Pittwater Park, Sydney  
15:00 AEST Attendance: 500

17 September 2017 Brisbane City 42–40 Canberra Vikings UQ Rugby Club, Brisbane  
13:00 AEST Attendance: 2,300

17 September 2017 Perth Spirit 61–17 Greater Sydney Rams UWA Rugby Club, Perth  
13:00 AWST Attendance: 2,000
Bye/s: Queensland Country

Round 4[edit]

23 September 2017 NSW Country Eagles 25–24 Canberra Vikings Bellevue Oval, Armidale  
13:00 AEST Attendance: 2,200

23 September 2017 Fijian Drua 41–5 Perth Spirit ANZ Stadium, Suva  
17:00 FJT Attendance: 8,000+

24 September 2017 Sydney Rays 24–50 Queensland Country Pittwater Park, Sydney  
13:00 AEST Attendance: 700

24 September 2017 Melbourne Rising 41–31 Greater Sydney Rams Harlequin Oval, Melbourne  
15:00 AEST Attendance: 1,000
Bye/s: Brisbane City

Round 5[edit]

29 September 2017 Canberra Vikings 66–5 Fijian Drua Viking Park, Canberra  
19:30 AEST Attendance: 2,000

30 September 2017 Queensland Country 54–12 Melbourne Rising Bond University, Gold Coast, Gold Coast  
15:00 AEST Attendance: 1,200

1 October 2017 Perth Spirit 62–28 Brisbane City UWA Rugby Club, Perth  
14:00 AWST Attendance: 2,000

2 October 2017 NSW Country Eagles 26–17 Sydney Rays Simon Poidevin Oval, Goulburn  
15:00 AEDT Attendance: 1,000
Bye/s: Greater Sydney Rams

Round 6[edit]

Pasifika Round

Horan-Little Challenge 7 October 2017 Greater Sydney Rams 31–57 Fijian Drua TG Millner Field, Sydney  
15:00 AEDT Attendance: 4,000

7 October 2017 Queensland Country 34–31 NSW Country Eagles Bond University, Gold Coast, Gold Coast  
16:00 AEST Attendance: 1,000

8 October 2017 Melbourne Rising 12–36 Canberra Vikings Frankston Park, Frankston  
13:00 AEDT Attendance: 1,000

8 October 2017 Sydney Rays 29–46 Brisbane City Pittwater Park, Sydney  
15:00 AEDT Attendance: 1,500
Bye/s: Perth Spirit

Round 7[edit]

14 October 2017 Greater Sydney Rams 31–57 Queensland Country TG Millner Field, Sydney  
13:00 AEDT Attendance: 500

14 October 2017 NSW Country Eagles 15–10 Perth Spirit Scully Park, Tamworth  
15:00 AEDT Attendance: 500

15 October 2017 Canberra Vikings 71–14 Sydney Rays Viking Park, Canberra  
14:30 AEDT Attendance: 1,700

15 October 2017 Brisbane City 51–24 Melbourne Rising Wests Bulldogs, Brisbane  
16:00 AEST Attendance: 1,000
Bye/s: Fijian Drua

Round 8[edit]

Horan-Little Challenge 21 October 2017 Fijian Drua 17–24 Queensland Country Churchill Park, Lautoka  
14:00 FJT Report [34] Attendance: 6,000
Referee: Graham Cooper

21 October 2017 Brisbane City 19–31 Greater Sydney Rams Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane  
14:00 AEST Report [35] Attendance: 1,100
Referee: Nic Berry

21 October 2017 Perth Spirit 31–44 Sydney Rays UWA Rugby Club, Perth  
14:00 AWST Report [36] Attendance: 2,100
Referee: Angus Gardner

22 October 2017 Melbourne Rising 19–47 NSW Country Eagles Harlequin Oval, Melbourne  
14:30 AEDT Try: Ratu, Hutchison, Maddocks
Con: McGregor 2
Report [37] Try: Gibbon 3, Freier, Gordon, Wileman, Gibbon, Paenga-Amosa
Con: Adams 6
Attendance: 1,000
Referee: Will Houston
Bye/s: Canberra Vikings

Round 9[edit]

28 October 2017 NSW Country Eagles 38–38 Brisbane City Wade Park, Orange  
13:00 AEDT Attendance: 1,500

28 October 2017 Fijian Drua 29–36 Sydney Rays ANZ Stadium, Suva  
16:00 FJT Attendance: 3,000

29 October 2017 Greater Sydney Rams 22–35 Canberra Vikings TG Millner Field, Sydney  
15:00 AEDT Attendance: 500

Horan-Little Challenge 29 October 2017 Queensland Country 26–29 Perth Spirit Qld Group Stadium, Ipswich  
16:00 AEST Attendance: 1,000
Bye/s: Melbourne Rising


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


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 yellow card 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 yellow card 26' to 36'
Mawi yellow card 65' to 75'
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Will Houston


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'
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 yellow card 65' to 75'
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: Will Houston


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External links[edit]

Team webpages[edit]