National Rugby Championship
|National Rugby Championship (NRC)|
|Current season or competition:
2015 National Rugby Championship
|Number of teams||9|
|Champions||Brisbane City (2015)|
|Most titles||Brisbane City (2 titles)|
|Broadcast partner||Fox Sports|
The National Rugby Championship, known as the NRC, is Australia's national professional rugby union football competition. The NRC is administered by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), and is contested by nine teams from around Australia. The NRC is the highest tier of competition below the transnational Super Rugby tournament, which also involves New Zealand and South Africa. The championship provides an important competition for Australian players following the Super Rugby season.
The National Rugby Championship spans eleven weeks from late August, after the completion of the premier club rugby competitions in each state, to early November. A round-robin tournament is played over nine rounds where each team plays each other once. Each team has four home matches and four away matches with one bye. This is followed by the finals rounds consisting of two semi-final matches, contested by the top four teams, and a grand final match to determine the season's champion team.
During the round-robin section of the tournament, teams can also play for the Horan-Little Shield, a challenge trophy that is played for when a challenge is accepted or offered by the holders.
Buildcorp has the naming rights for the NRC competition. Other partners include Intercontinental Hotels, Qantas, and Allianz, with the Allianz group logo appearing on referees' jerseys through to end of 2016. ASICS are the official apparel supplier and Gilbert is the official supplier of all rugby balls.
The tournament is run by the Australian Rugby Union with the sponsorship of Foxtel which provides television coverage on its Fox Sports channels. Discussion of the NRC competition is included on Fox Sports' Rugby HQ program on Thursday nights following the live match broadcast, and on the Monday night review show NRC Extra Time on Fox Sports HD 2.
Live TV coverage and streaming
One (or more) of the NRC matches each round, typically the Thursday night match, is broadcast live via Fox Sports HD 2. Streaming of the three non-broadcast matches per round, usually played on Saturday or Sunday, is hosted by Fox Sports online.
In December 2013, the ARU announced that Australia would get a third-tier competition in line with South Africa’s Currie Cup and New Zealand's ITM Cup. Eleven bids were tendered from teams wanting to participate in the tournament, with nine being accepted. Applicants that were not successfult were advised that they could bid again as the competition matured, as early as 2015.
A new broadcasting deal agreed in 2015, secured the funding and future of the competition until the 2020 season.
The teams competing in the NRC are the following:
|Team||Licencees and associated clubs|
|Brisbane City||QRU / Reds|
|Greater Sydney Rams||West Harbour, Penrith, Parramatta, Southern Districts∗|
|Melbourne Rising||VRU / Rebels|
|NSW Country Eagles||Easts, Randwick|
|North Harbour Rays||Manly, Warringah, Gordon, Norths|
|Perth Spirit||WA / Force|
|Queensland Country||QRU / Reds|
|Sydney Stars||Sydney University, Balmain|
|University of Canberra Vikings||ACT&SNSWRU / Brumbies, University of Canberra, Tuggeranong Vikings|
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|
|Perth Spirit||0||1 (2014)||0|
|Canberra Vikings||0||1 (2015)||0|
|Melbourne Rising||0||0||2 (2014, 2015)|
|New South Wales Country Eagles||0||0||1 (2014)|
|Sydney Stars||0||0||1 (2015)|
Wins by State/Territory
|Australian Capital Territory||0||1||0|
|New South Wales||0||0||2|
Champions by year
|Year||# of Teams||Final||Losing semi-finalists|
|Winner||Score||Runner-up||1st losing semi-finalist||2nd losing semi-finalist|
|2014||9||Brisbane City||37-26||Perth Spirit||Melbourne Rising||NSW Country Eagles|
|2015||9||Brisbane City||21-10||Canberra Vikings||Melbourne Rising||Sydney Stars|
- Australian Rugby Championship (predecessor competition)
- Australian Rugby Shield (defunct)
- National Women's Rugby Championship
- Super Rugby
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- Payten, Iain (4 March 2015). "New broadcasting deal ensures future of National Rugby Championship until at least 2020". The Courier Mail. News. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Bill Pulver releases details on the new National Rugby Championship, which kicks off in August". foxsports.com.au. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
- "NRC update part 2: NSW Country and the Sydney teams". The Roar. 9 July 2014. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Eastwood quit Greater Sydney Rams partnership". ESPN Scrum. 2 July 2014. Archived from the original on 16 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.