National Rugby Championship

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National Rugby Championship
National Rugby Championship logo 2017.png
Tournament information
SportRugby union
Final year2019
TeamsAustralia (7 teams)
Fiji (1 team)
Tournament statistics
Final championWestern Force
(2019; 1st title)
Most titlesBrisbane City
(2 titles)
Competition launch in 2014.

The National Rugby Championship, known as NRC, was an Australian rugby union competition. It was contested by eight teams, seven from Australia and one from Fiji. The tournament ran from 2014 until 2019 before being disbanded in 2020 following the change of the Australian rugby TV broadcasting deal from Fox Sports, who had funded the competition, to Stan Sport.[1] The 2020 competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]

NRC trophy


The National Rugby Championship was usually held between late August and early November. A round-robin tournament was scheduled first where each team played all others once. The top four teams progressed 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, nicknamed 'The Toast Rack'.

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


The teams that competed in the National Rugby Championship were.

Region Team Seasons Licencees / associated teams
ACT Australian Capital Territory Canberra Vikings[a] 2014–2019 ACT and Southern NSW Rugby / Brumbies, Tuggeranong Vikings
Fiji Fiji Fijian Drua 2017–2019 Fiji Rugby Union
NSW New South Wales Greater Sydney Rams[b] 2014–2017 New South Wales Rugby / Eastwood, Parramatta, Penrith, Southern Districts, West Harbour
NSW New South Wales NSW Country Eagles 2014–2019 NSW Country Rugby / Sydney University,[c] Waratahs
NSW New South Wales Sydney[d] 2014–2019 New South Wales Rugby / Waratahs
NSW New South Wales Sydney Stars 2014–2015 New South Wales Rugby / Balmain, Sydney University
QLD Queensland Brisbane City 2014–2019 Queensland Rugby / Reds
QLD Queensland Queensland Country 2014–2019 Queensland Rugby / Reds
VIC Victoria (state) Melbourne Rising 2014–2019 Rugby Victoria / Rebels
WA Western Australia Perth Spirit 2014–2017 RugbyWA / Force
WA Western Australia Western Force 2018–2019 RugbyWA / Force
  1. ^ Known as University of Canberra Vikings from 2014–2016
  2. ^ Known as the Western Sydney Rams for 2016.
  3. ^ Sydney University, previously with Sydney Stars before their licence was cancelled, formed a partnership with NSW Country Eagles in 2016.[3]
  4. ^ Known as North Harbour Rays from 2014–2015 and Sydney Rays from 2016–2018.

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.[4] 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.


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.[5] Applicants that were not successful were advised that they could bid again as the competition matured, as early as 2015.[6]

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.[7][8]

The construction company Buildcorp was the inaugural naming rights sponsor for the NRC competition,[9] with other partners including Intercontinental Hotels, Qantas, and Allianz also signed.[10] ASICS was the official apparel supplier for the first two seasons. Matches were played under approved law variations,[11] intended to increase the speed of the game.[12]

A new broadcasting deal agreed in 2015 secured the funding and future of the competition until the end of the 2020 season.[13] 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.[3]

A team from Fiji, the Fijian Drua, joined the competition for the 2017 season.[14] For the 2018 season, the Greater Sydney Rams were dropped from the competition, leaving Sydney with just one team, the Rays.[15]


The tournament is run by Rugby Australia with the sponsorship of Foxtel which provides television coverage on its Fox Sports channels.[16] Gilbert is the official supplier of all rugby balls.[9]

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.



Year Final Semi-finalists No.
of teams
Winner Score Runner-up

Brisbane City
Ballymore Stadium

Perth Spirit

NSW Country Eagles

Melbourne Rising

Brisbane City
Ballymore Stadium

Canberra Vikings

Melbourne Rising

Sydney Stars

Perth Spirit
Scully Park

NSW Country Eagles

Melbourne Rising

Sydney Rays

Queensland Country
Viking Park

Canberra Vikings

Perth Spirit

Fijian Drua

Fijian Drua
Churchill Park

Queensland Country

Canberra Vikings

Western Force

Western Force
UWA Sports Park

Canberra Vikings

Brisbane City

Fijian Drua
2020 Cancelled due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.[17] 8

Results summary[edit]

Team Champion Runner-up Semi-finalist
Brisbane City 2 (2014, 2015) 1 (2019)
Perth Spirit 1 (2016) 1 (2014) 1 (2017)
Queensland Country 1 (2017) 1 (2018)
Fijian Drua 1 (2018) 2 (2017, 2019)
Western Force 1 (2019) 1 (2018)
Canberra Vikings 3 (2015, 2017, 2019) 1 (2018)
NSW Country Eagles 1 (2016) 1 (2014)
Melbourne Rising 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)
Sydney Stars 1 (2015)
Sydney Rays 1 (2016)

Results summary by region[edit]

Region Champion Runner-up Semi-finalist
 Queensland 3 (2014, 2015, 2017) 1 (2018) 1 (2019)
 Western Australia 2 (2016, 2019) 1 (2014) 2 (2017, 2018)
 Fiji 1 (2018) 2 (2017, 2019)
 Australian Capital Territory 3 (2015, 2017, 2019) 1 (2018)
 New South Wales 1 (2016) 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)
 Victoria 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Club Championship concept to be \"inclusive\"". 12 August 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Sport: NRC cancellation a blow for Fijian Drua rugby team". RNZ. 4 June 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Sydney Stars victims of National Rugby Championship consolidation". The Daily Telegraph. 11 February 2016. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "ARU Board approves nine team National Rugby Championship to start in August 2014". (Press release). 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  6. ^ "SA Rugby misses out on an NRC Team". 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 25 October 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Australia relaunches National Rugby Championship". 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  8. ^ "NRC update part 1: Queensland, Perth, Melbourne and Canberra". The Roar. 8 July 2014. Archived from the original on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "ARU partners with Allianz for new National Rugby Championship". Australian Rugby. 20 August 2014. Archived from the original on 24 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Law variation". Australian Rugby Union. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  12. ^ McKay, Brett (13 August 2015). "Law variations to continue in NRC Season 2". The Roar. Archived from the original on 12 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ NSW to field two NRC teams in 2018 - Beth Newman,, 6 June 2018
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Sport: NRC cancellation a blow for Fijian Drua rugby team". Radio New Zealand. 4 June 2020.

External links[edit]


Team webpages[edit]