National Rugby Championship

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National Rugby Championship (NRC)
Recent season
2019 National Rugby Championship
National Rugby Championship logo 2017.png
SportRugby union
Inaugural season2014
Number of teams8
CountryAustralia (7 teams)
Fiji (1 team)
ChampionsFijian Drua (2018)
Most titlesBrisbane City (2 titles)
Websiterugby.com.au/competitions/nrc
Broadcast partnerFox Sports
Related competition

The National Rugby Championship, known as NRC, is an Australian national rugby union competition. It is contested by eight teams — seven from Australia and one from Fiji.

The NRC is the top-level tournament administered by Rugby Australia. It is a competition for players in Australia following the Super Rugby season.

Format[edit]

The National Rugby Championship is usually held in the period between late August and early November. A round-robin tournament is scheduled first where each team plays all others once. The top four teams progress to the championship playoffs consisting of two semi-final knockout matches and a grand final to determine the champion team and winner of the NRC Trophy.

NRC winner's trophy, nicknamed 'The Toast Rack'.

During the round-robin section of the tournament, teams can also play for the Horan-Little Shield, a challenge trophy that is put on the line by the holders when a challenge match is accepted or mandated according to the Shield rules.

Teams[edit]

The National Rugby Championship has eight teams competing in the 2018 season:

Teams in the 2018 National Rugby Championship  (Fijian Drua not shown on map).
NRC Competition Launch in 2014 with Buildcorp MD Tony Sukkar and players from all teams.
Team  Licencees and associated clubs
Brisbane City QRU / Reds
Canberra Vikings ACT&SNSWRU / Brumbies, Tuggeranong Vikings
Fijian Drua Fiji Rugby Union
NSW Country NSW Country Rugby Union / Waratahs
Melbourne Rising VRU / Rebels
Queensland Country QRU / Reds
Sydney NSWRU / Waratahs
Western Force WA / Force

Television coverage and streaming[edit]

Two of the NRC matches each weekend are broadcast live via Fox Sports, with the remaining matches shown on the Fox Sports streaming platform.[1] Discussion of the NRC competition is included on Fox Sports' review show NRC Extra Time on Monday nights, and the Kick & Chase program on Tuesday evenings.

History[edit]

Buildcorp NRC logo used 2014–2016.

In December 2013, the ARU announced that Australia would get another tier of competition under Super Rugby in line with South Africa’s Currie Cup and New Zealand's Mitre 10 Cup (then known as ITM Cup). Eleven bids were tendered from teams wanting to participate in the tournament, with nine being accepted.[2] Applicants that were not successful were advised that they could bid again as the competition matured, as early as 2015.[3]

The National Rugby Championship followed a previous national competition, the Australian Rugby Championship, that was abandoned after the first season in 2007 due to financial losses.[4][5]

The construction company Buildcorp was the inaugural naming rights sponsor for the NRC competition,[6] with other partners including Intercontinental Hotels, Qantas, and Allianz also signed.[7] ASICS was the official apparel supplier for the first two seasons. Matches were played under approved law variations,[8] intended to increase the speed of the game.[9]

A new broadcasting deal agreed in 2015 secured the funding and future of the competition until the end of the 2020 season.[10] The competition was reduced from nine teams to eight when the ARU did not renew the NRC licence for the Sydney Stars in 2016, citing insufficient player talent to support four competitive teams in New South Wales.[11]

A team from Fiji, the Fijian Drua, joined the competition for the 2017 season.[12] For the 2018 season, the Greater Sydney Rams were dropped from the competition, leaving Sydney with just one team, the Rays.[13]

Sponsorship[edit]

The tournament is run by Rugby Australia with the sponsorship of Foxtel which provides television coverage on its Fox Sports channels.[14] Gilbert is the official supplier of all rugby balls.[6]

Player selection[edit]

Australia's Super Rugby players participate in the NRC under a capped allocation to ensure that all NRC teams have a mix of players from local development squads and club competitions, as well as those with Super Rugby experience. Australian national team players are required for Test match rugby during the NRC season, but each player is allocated to one of the NRC teams and is able to play if released from national duty.

Champions[edit]

Season Premiers Score Runners-up Venue Attend­ance
National Rugby Championship
2014 Queensland Brisbane City 37 – 26 Western Australia Perth Spirit Ballymore Stadium

Brisbane

7,889
2015 Queensland Brisbane City (2) 21 – 10 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings Ballymore Stadium

Brisbane

4,327
2016 Western Australia Perth Spirit 20 – 16 New South Wales NSW Country Eagles Scully Park

Tamworth

2017 Queensland Queensland Country 42 – 28 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings Viking Park

Canberra

4,000
2018 Fiji Fijian Drua 36 – 26 Queensland Queensland Country Churchill Park

Lautoka

6,000
2019 Western Australia Western Force 41 – 3 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings UWA Rugby Park

Perth

Team Performance[edit]

Team Winners Runners-up Years won Years runner-up
Queensland Brisbane City 2 0 2014, 2015
Western Australia Perth Spirit 1 1 2016 2014
Queensland Queensland Country 1 1 2017 2018
Fiji Fijian Drua 1 0 2018
Western Australia Western Force 1 0 2019
Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings 0 3 2015, 2017, 2019
New South Wales NSW Country Eagles 0 1 2016

Minor Premiers/Wooden Spoon[edit]

Season Minor Premier Wooden Spoon
National Rugby Championship
2014 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising New South Wales Sydney Stars
2015 Queensland Brisbane City New South Wales Greater Sydney Rams
2016 New South Wales NSW Country Eagles Queensland Queensland Country
2017 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising
2018 Fiji Fijian Drua New South Wales Sydney Rays
2019 Western Australia Western Force New South Wales Sydney (2)

Team Performance[edit]

Team Minor Premiers Wooden Spoon Years Minor Premier Years Wooden Spoon
Queensland Brisbane City 1 0 2015
New South Wales NSW Country Eagles 1 0 2016
Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings 1 0 2017
Fiji Fijian Drua 1 0 2018
Western Australia Western Force 1 0 2019
Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Rising 1 1 2014 2017
New South Wales Sydney Stars 0 1 2014
New South Wales Greater Sydney Rams 0 1 2015
Queensland Queensland Country 0 1 2016
New South Wales Sydney 0 2 2018, 2019

NRC Division 2[edit]

An Emerging States Championship was formed in 2018 for representative teams from smaller rugby unions within Australia.[15] There had been no regular competition for these teams since the demise of Australian Rugby Shield a decade earlier. The new tournament was hosted by Rugby Union South Australia in Adelaide and featured the South Australia Black Falcons, Victoria Country Barbarians, Northern Territory Mosquitoes and Tasmania Jack Jumpers. The Black Falcons were the inaugural winners.[16] The tournament was rebranded as NRC Division 2 for 2019, with eight representative teams invited:[17]

Year Teams Champion Runner-up Third Fourth
2018 4 South AustraliaSouth Australia TasmaniaTasmania Northern TerritoryNorthern Territory Victoria (Australia)Victoria Country
2019 7 Western AustraliaPerth Gold New South WalesNew South Wales Country QueenslandQueensland Country South AustraliaSouth Australia

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ "ARU Board approves nine team National Rugby Championship to start in August 2014". rugby.com.au (Press release). 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  3. ^ "SA Rugby misses out on an NRC Team". sarugby.com.au. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Australia relaunches National Rugby Championship". rugbyweek.com. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  5. ^ "NRC update part 1: Queensland, Perth, Melbourne and Canberra". The Roar. 8 July 2014. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Buildcorp announced as National Rugby Championship naming rights partner". Australian Rugby. 16 July 2014. Archived from the original on 16 July 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  7. ^ "ARU partners with Allianz for new National Rugby Championship". Australian Rugby. 20 August 2014. Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Law variation". Australian Rugby Union. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  9. ^ McKay, Brett (13 August 2015). "Law variations to continue in NRC Season 2". The Roar. Archived from the original on 13 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  10. ^ Payten, Iain (4 March 2015). "New broadcasting deal ensures future of National Rugby Championship until at least 2020". The Courier Mail. News. Archived from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Sydney Stars victims of National Rugby Championship consolidation". The Daily Telegraph. 11 February 2016. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  12. ^ "FRU Reveals Fiji NRC Official Name and Kit" (Press release). Fiji Rugby Union. 16 August 2017. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  13. ^ NSW to field two NRC teams in 2018 - Beth Newman, Rugby.com.au, 6 June 2018
  14. ^ McKay, Brett (15 July 2014). "NRC update part 3: All systems go for launch". The Roar. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  15. ^ "South Australia claim Emerging States Championship". Rugby Australia. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  16. ^ Jack Hislop (26 September 2018). "The NT's representative rugby team has finished second at the Emerging States Championships". Northern Territory News. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  17. ^ https://sa.rugby/news/2019/09/05/nrcii-tournament

External links[edit]

Archives[edit]

Team webpages[edit]