National Rugby Championship

The National Rugby Championship, known as NRC, was an Australian national 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 at the end of 2020 following the change of the Australian rugby TV broadcasting deal from Fox Sports, who funded the competition, to Stan Sport.[1] The 2020 competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]

National Rugby Championship (NRC)
National Rugby Championship logo 2017.png
SportRugby union
Inaugural season2014
Ceased2019
Number of teams8
CountryAustralia (7 teams)
Fiji (1 team)
ChampionsWestern Force (2019)
Most titlesBrisbane City (2 titles)
Websiterugby.com.au/competitions/nrc
Related competition

FormatEdit

The National Rugby Championship was usually held in the period between late August and early November. A round-robin tournament was 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.

TeamsEdit

The National Rugby Championship had eight teams competing in its final season - 2019 season:

Teams in the 2019 National Rugby Championship  (Fijian Drua not shown on map).
 
NRC Competition Launch in 2014 with Buildcorp MD Tony Sukkar and players from all teams.

The teams that competed in the final edition of the National Rugby Championship were.

Team  Dates Licencees / associated teams Region
Brisbane City 2014–2019 Queensland Rugby Union / Reds   Queensland
Canberra Vikings
(known as University of Canberra Vikings from 2014–2016)
2014–2019 ACT and Southern NSW Rugby Union
/ Brumbies, Tuggeranong Vikings
  Australian Capital Territory
Fijian Drua 2017–2019 Fiji Rugby Union   Fiji
Melbourne Rising 2014–2019 Victorian Rugby Union / Rebels   Victoria
NSW Country Eagles 2014–2019 NSW Country Rugby Union / Waratahs   New South Wales
Queensland Country 2014–2019 Queensland Rugby Union / Reds   Queensland
Sydney
(known as North Harbour Rays from 2014–2015 and Sydney Rays from 2016–2018)
2014–2019 New South Wales Rugby Union / Waratahs   New South Wales
Western Force 2018–2019 RugbyWA / Force   Western Australia

Former teams
The other teams that competed in the competition between 2014 and 2019 were:

Team  Dates Licencees / associated teams Region
Greater Sydney Rams
(known as Western Sydney Rams for 2016)
2014–2017 New South Wales Rugby Union / Eastwood, Parramatta, Penrith, Southern Districts, West Harbour   New South Wales
Perth Spirit 2014–2017 RugbyWA / Force   Western Australia
Sydney Stars 2014–2015 New South Wales Rugby Union / Balmain, Sydney University   New South Wales

Television coverage and streamingEdit

Two of the NRC matches each weekend were broadcast live via Fox Sports, with the remaining matches shown on the Fox Sports streaming platform.[3] 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.

HistoryEdit

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

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.[6][7]

The construction company Buildcorp was the inaugural naming rights sponsor for the NRC competition,[8] with other partners including Intercontinental Hotels, Qantas, and Allianz also signed.[9] ASICS was the official apparel supplier for the first two seasons. Matches were played under approved law variations,[10] intended to increase the speed of the game.[11]

A new broadcasting deal agreed in 2015 secured the funding and future of the competition until the end of the 2020 season.[12] 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.[13]

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]

SponsorshipEdit

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.[8]

Player selectionEdit

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.

ChampionsEdit

Season Premiers Score Runners-up Referee(s) Venue Attendance Date
National Rugby Championship
2014 Brisbane City   37–26   Perth Spirit R. Hoffmann Ballymore Stadium 7,889 1 November 2014
2015 Brisbane City   21–10   Canberra Vikings A. Lees Ballymore Stadium 4,327 31 October 2015
2016 Perth Spirit   20–16   NSW Country Eagles N. Berry Scully Park 2,000 22 October 2016
2017 Queensland Country   42–28   Canberra Vikings W. Houston Viking Park 4,000 11 November 2017
2018 Fijian Drua   36–26   Queensland Country N. Berry Churchill Park 6,000 27 October 2018
2019 Western Force   41–3   Canberra Vikings D. Murphy UWA Rugby Park 6,500 26 October 2019
2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Team PerformanceEdit

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

Minor Premiers/Wooden SpoonEdit

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)
2020

Team PerformanceEdit

Team Minor Premiers Wooden Spoon Years Minor Premier Years Wooden Spoon
  Brisbane City 1 0 2015
  NSW Country Eagles 1 0 2016
  Canberra Vikings 1 0 2017
  Fijian Drua 1 0 2018
  Western Force 1 0 2019
  Melbourne Rising 1 1 2014 2017
  Sydney Stars 0 1 2014
  Greater Sydney Rams 0 1 2015
  Queensland Country 0 1 2016
  Sydney 0 2 2018, 2019

NRC Division 2Edit

An Emerging States Championship was formed in 2018 for representative teams from smaller rugby unions within Australia.[17] 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.[18] The tournament was rebranded as NRC Division 2 for 2019, with eight representative teams invited:[19]

Year Teams Champion Runner-up Third Fourth
2018 4  South Australia  Tasmania  Northern Territory  Victoria Country
2019 7  Perth Gold  New South Wales Country  Queensland Country  South Australia
2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "National Club Championship concept to be \"inclusive\"". Rugby.com.au. 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. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "SA Rugby misses out on an NRC Team". sarugby.com.au. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 25 October 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Australia relaunches National Rugby Championship". rugbyweek.com. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Law variation". Australian Rugby Union. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "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.
  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, Rugby.com.au, 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. ^ "South Australia claim Emerging States Championship". Rugby Australia. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ https://sa.rugby/news/2019/09/05/nrcii-tournament

External linksEdit

ArchivesEdit

Team webpagesEdit