National Rugby Championship
2018 National Rugby Championship
|Number of teams||8|
|Champions||Fijian Drua (2018)|
|Most titles||Brisbane City (2 titles)|
|Broadcast partner||Fox Sports|
The National Rugby Championship, known as NRC, is Australia's national professional rugby union competition. As of 2018[update], it is contested by seven teams from around Australia plus one from Fiji.
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.
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.
The National Rugby Championship has eight teams competing in the 2018 season:
|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, Sydney University, Easts, Randwick|
|Melbourne Rising||VRU / Rebels|
|Queensland Country||QRU / Reds|
|Sydney Rays||Gordon, Manly, Norths, Warringah|
|Western Force||WA / Force|
Television coverage and streaming
Two of the NRC matches each weekend are broadcast live via Fox Sports, with the remaining matches shown on the Fox Sports streaming platform. 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.
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. Applicants that were not successful were advised that they could bid again as the competition matured, as early as 2015.
The construction company Buildcorp was the inaugural naming rights sponsor for the NRC competition, with other partners including Intercontinental Hotels, Qantas, and Allianz also signed. ASICS was the official apparel supplier for the first two seasons. Matches were played under approved law variations, intended to increase the speed of the game.
A new broadcasting deal agreed in 2015 secured the funding and future of the competition until the end of the 2020 season. 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.
A team from Fiji, the Fijian Drua, joined the competition for the 2017 season. For the 2018 season, the Greater Sydney Rams were dropped from the competition, leaving Sydney with just one team, the Rays.
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.
|Brisbane City||2 (2014, 2015)||0||0|
|Western Force [a]||1 (2016)||1 (2014)||2 (2017, 2018)|
|Queensland Country||1 (2017)||1 (2018)||0|
|Fijian Drua||1 (2018)||0||1 (2017)|
|Canberra Vikings||0||2 (2015, 2017)||1 (2018)|
|NSW Country||0||1 (2016)||1 (2014)|
|Melbourne Rising||0||0||3 (2014, 2015, 2016)|
|Sydney Rays||0||0||1 (2016)|
|Sydney Stars||0||0||1 (2015)|
Wins by State/Territory/Nation
|Australian Capital Territory||0||2||1|
|New South Wales||0||1||3|
|Year||# of Teams||Final||Semi-final knockouts|
|2014||9||Brisbane City||37–26||Perth Spirit||Melbourne Rising||NSW Country|
|2015||9||Brisbane City||21–10||Canberra Vikings||Melbourne Rising||Sydney Stars|
|2016||8||Perth Spirit||20–16||NSW Country||Sydney Rays||Melbourne Rising|
|2017||9||Queensland Country||42–28||Canberra Vikings||Fijian Drua||Perth Spirit|
|2018||8||Fijian Drua||36–26||Queensland Country||Western Force||Canberra Vikings|
Emerging States Championship
In 2018 an additional competition was formed for teams from so-called "Emerging States", featuring the Adelaide Black Falcons, Victoria Country Barbarians, Northern Territory Mosquitoes and Tasmania Jack Jumpers. The first Competition was held in Adelaide in September 2018, and the Black Falcons were the inaugural winners.
|Year||# of Teams|
|2018||4||Adelaide Black Falcons||Tasmania Jack Jumpers||Northern Territory Mosquitoes||Victoria Country Barbarians|
- Australian Rugby Championship (predecessor competition)
- Australian Rugby Shield (defunct)
- Super Rugby
- Super W
- The Western Force tally includes results for the team's previous incarnation as Perth Spirit in NRC from 2014–2017.
- "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.
- "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.
- "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.
- "Australia relaunches National Rugby Championship". rugbyweek.com. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
- "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.
- "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.
- "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.
- "Law variation". Australian Rugby Union. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
- McKay, Brett (13 Aug 2015). "Law variations to continue in NRC Season 2". The Roar. Archived from the original on 13 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- 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.
- "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.
- "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.
- NSW to field two NRC teams in 2018 - Beth Newman, Rugby.com.au, 6 June 2018
- 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.
- "South Australia claim Emerging States Championship". Rugby Australia. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
- 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.