National Rugby Championship
2019 National Rugby Championship
|Number of teams||8|
|Country||Australia (7 teams)|
Fiji (1 team)
|Champions||Fijian Drua (2018)|
|Most titles||Brisbane City (2 titles)|
|Broadcast partner||Fox Sports|
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 / Waratahs|
|Melbourne Rising||VRU / Rebels|
|Queensland Country||QRU / Reds|
|Sydney||NSWRU / Waratahs|
|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.
|National Rugby Championship|
|2014||Brisbane City||37 – 26||Perth Spirit||Ballymore Stadium||7,889|
|2015||Brisbane City (2)||21 – 10||Canberra Vikings||Ballymore Stadium||4,327|
|2016||Perth Spirit||20 – 16||NSW Country Eagles||Scully Park|
|2017||Queensland Country||42 – 28||Canberra Vikings||Viking Park||4,000|
|2018||Fijian Drua||36 – 26||Queensland Country||Churchill Park||6,000|
|2019||Western Force||41 – 3||Canberra Vikings||UWA Rugby Park|
|Team||Winners||Runners-up||Years won||Years runner-up|
|Brisbane City||2||0||2014, 2015||–|
|Canberra Vikings||0||3||–||2015, 2017, 2019|
|NSW Country Eagles||0||1||–||2016|
Minor Premiers/Wooden Spoon
|Season||Minor Premier||Wooden Spoon|
|National Rugby Championship|
|2014||Melbourne Rising||Sydney Stars|
|2015||Brisbane City||Greater Sydney Rams|
|2016||NSW Country Eagles||Queensland Country|
|2017||Canberra Vikings||Melbourne Rising|
|2018||Fijian Drua||Sydney Rays|
|2019||Western Force||Sydney (2)|
|Team||Minor Premiers||Wooden Spoon||Years Minor Premier||Years Wooden Spoon|
|NSW Country Eagles||1||0||2016||–|
|Greater Sydney Rams||0||1||–||2015|
NRC Division 2
An Emerging States Championship was formed in 2018 for representative teams from smaller rugby unions within Australia. 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. The tournament was rebranded as NRC Division 2 for 2019, with eight representative teams invited:
|2018||4||South Australia||Tasmania||Northern Territory||Victoria Country|
|2019||7||Perth Gold||New South Wales Country||Queensland Country||South Australia|
- Australian Rugby Championship (predecessor competition)
- Australian Rugby Shield (defunct)
- Super Rugby
- Super W
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- NSW to field two NRC teams in 2018 - Beth Newman, Rugby.com.au, 6 June 2018
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