New domestic rugby competition announced - Green and Gold Rugby
Club Rugby

New domestic rugby competition announced

New domestic rugby competition announced

The ARU has announced plans for a new domestic rugby competition to be played in 2014.

The competition to be known as the National Rugby Championship will run from August to October and will be sponsored by Fox Sports. Fox Sports will televise one game live per round plus the semi finals and final.

Sydney and Brisbane club competitions are working to schedule their existing club competitions so they will not clash with the new competition.

The participating teams have not yet been revealed but it is expected there will be 8-10 teams from major population centres across Australia.

A commission involving key stakeholders including the ARU, Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA), Fox Sports and Foxtel will work with John Boultbee AM, who has previous experience with football and the Australian Institute of Sport, in setting up the competition.

RUPA CEO Greg Harris is pleased the association was able to play a key role in setting it up and feels it is the missing link between Super and club rugby.

‘This new competition will give all non-Wallaby Super Rugby players an opportunity to continue to develop their skills in elite match conditions and will provide an opportunity for an additional 150 players to experience Rugby in a semi-professional environment’.

Interested teams will follow an expression of interest process and those applications will be considered on key areas including financial performance; professional team staffing structure and environment, commitment to player development, venue facilities, links to Super Rugby clubs, and current or potential fan base.

Applications close in mid January 2014 with the successful teams will be known by the end of February.

  • stuartfaz

    About bloody time.

    • Mart

      This system should’ve come in when rugby went professional in 95′

  • Gary

    Stoked! World domination here we come.

    • Gotta start somewhere and this is the right place

      • Gary

        Too true – looking forward to it!

  • seandking

    nice one, love there’s a little bit of leadership. There will be a comp, this is when it will run, all the stakeholders are involved to nut out the details. There will no doubt be some losers (clubs missing out) but overall this can only be a good thing for Australian rugby. I hope Foxtel is putting their hands in their pockets & not just bringing the broadcast to the table.

  • Gold12

    I think the key to this is to start small. Maybe 6 teams to start off with to minimise cost and risk, then expand once the competition is financially stable. This was how Super Rugby developed, it makes sense for the new domestic rugby competition to follow in the same footsteps. After all, the process has evidently been a proven success. I would start with only one team based in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Newcastle and the Gold Coast. After a few seasons to get the finances in order, I would then look to introduce another team based in Sydney and Brisbane then expand to the Central Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Perth and perhaps even Adelaide.

    • Hoges

      The Gold Coast has been the death of so many “new” teams it is hard to remember them all across all the sports. Maybe just a Nth Bris/Sunshine Coast and Sth Bris/GC would work. There is still only one Premier team on both Coasts. Otherwise, I like your idea of start and then build. I think Perth should get a team before Newcastle….just to support the developing Super Team as well so it doesn’t always have to rely on imports, outcasts or rejects from other squads and can foster their own players.

      • Gold12

        My main reasoning behind Brisbane and Gold Coast was the fact that they are the main population centres/catchment areas for rugby in Queensland and they could develop a fan base from the rugby faithful of those areas as well as from the Broncos and Titans supporters who are perhaps open to the idea of watching a potentially entertaining brand of third tier rugby (wishful thinking to try and persuade Rugby League supporters, I know).
        The reason I gave Newcastle a team ahead of Perth is purely a money-saving exercise for the fledgling competition in the initial phase of its development. Unfortunately, Australia is a geographically vast country where the sheer tyranny of distance is a logistical nightmare as far as travel costs are concerned. After the competition hopefully gains momentum and the teams have reestablished their rightful place in the hearts and minds of Australians in rugby heartland, I would then endeavour to introduce teams in Perth etc. You do make a good point about supporting the Western Force though.

        • Jenkss

          Solid reasoning. I am looking forward to 2014 and I really hope that this succeeds.

          Also I would LOVE some games on FTA. At the moment Foxtel/Austar is just way too expensive for me to manage just to quench my sporting thirst.

        • Tahs_Man_Fan

          Plus GC = Kiwis. All those Kiwi kids will become union boys instead of going to mungo

    • Craster

      absolutely. I would say 7 max. 2 NSW 2 QLD 1 ACT 1 VIC 1 WA. Any more and you are spreading the potential fans too thin for the early stages to make it financially viable, increasing costs, and stretching the current player crop (considering there will be no wallabies involved) so that the standard won’t be as high.

  • Western Ram

    Needs an eastern and Western sydney sides as well as 2 in brisbane, then canberra, Melbourne, perth, adelaide, and then see where the best fit for regional teams are (Newcastle, Geelong, Nth Queensland, Central Queensland, Tassie, Illawarra, Central coast etc)

    • BlackFalcon

      South Australia are on the radar! Got a good young man on the job

    • Pat Garnham

      I’d love to see a Tassie team in the future, could feed into (and feed from) the Melbourne Rebels. The big challenge will getting a professional structure. Many many hard working volunteers in Tassie Rugby, but for this sort of operation we’d need full time paid staff, and the EOI docs from the ARU back that up too.

      Having said that I think Tas Rugby will be putting in an expression of interest following the success of the Rebels v Tahs game at the start of the year. Crowd of just under 10k.

      • Gold12

        Tasmania is a bit of an untapped sporting resource that the ARU should pay closer attention to.

        • Pat Garnham

          Two words. Ricky Ponting.

    • Pat Garnham

      I saw it mentioned on one of the Rebels groups too – another region which could be really successful would be ‘Borders’. Albury-Wodonga, chuck in Wagga Wagga, Sharpe as the coach and you’re onto a winner! Also geographically close/between other major centres.

  • Thank you Foxtel for sponsoring the NRC. But wouldn’t it be great to get a game on free to air as well? I hope someone is putting in the hard yards behind the scenes somewhere.

    • It would but as has always been the battle, it’s right as the NRL and AFL seasons are ending so you can rule out Ch 7 or 9.

      • Craster

        I think the best bet would be for rugby to combine properly with channel 10 in the hope that they sort themselves out. Could be a good move for both parties if the wallabies start winning

    • Mica

      I think you really need free to air to expand the base. Really smart move by Gallop and the A-League to go FTA on SBS this year and this will definitely grow their game and supporter base. Should just do the local game on FTA. I like the idea of the ABC coming to the party. They televised the ARC; no ads too. However might be better revenue with ten and financial viability will be important for survival. Long term view though is you need to make it available to the masses. The smart league viewers will convert. ;)

    • Pat Garnham

      I think the approach will be similar to the T20 big bash. They developed their product on Fox, then sold it to Ten. If the supporters are there for the NRC in the first year, both in the stands and televised on Fox, then the ARU will be much better placed to speak to FTA broadcasters with something they want to include in their programming. As opposed to doing the ARU a favour.

  • mistermouse666

    One game a week on Fox. Woo. Cannibalizing other competitions. Woo.

    We need a proper third tier desperately but we also need it to be done in a way that will engage the public and support existing competitions.

    • Not Stuart Broad

      Someone actually brought this up on the Facebook status, and they clarified that it was one LIVE game per week, which implies that they would be playing the others in other time slots.

      • SuckerForRed

        God I hope so.

  • TheBlackMamba

    Perhaps the competition could be aligned to some of the universities? That way, the semi-pro aspect could be supported by some longer-term benefits for players that aren’t going to make it to Super XV. Could work in a similar way to the collegiate system in the US?

    • Pat Garnham

      That was RUPA’s original proposal, and I good one I thought. Interesting to note on the ARU EOI document that they specifically mention Universities as potential syndicate partners for Clubs.

    • cg26

      I hope not – it’s a terrible system. Here is a meaty read – – as well as the legal issues, there is a thorough discussion of how academic standards are heavily lowered for the US student-athletes. I suppose I could see it working with university as just one option and no shortage of money or spaces for those of the team with no interest or aptitude for university.

  • BlackFalcon

    South Australia are on the radar! Got a good young man on the job in Adelaide!

  • Scotty

    I wonder how much a ticket will cost…
    hope it’s not like the $32 for the cheapest seats at NiB for the Force.

    • OOAAHh

      Why not just broadcast on youtube? Free.

      • SpecSavers

        Because the ARU is broke and needs Fox money to pay for the costs it has agreed to pay in setting up and running the comp. No Fox, no NRC.

      • Scotty

        (In case Bill’s listening…)
        I’d pay $10-15 happily and then go regularly – i’d also then buy a couple of beers and a sausage!
        For the Force, I recon $20 to stand at the end is more appropriate.

  • Grickles

    What we need is a Western Sydney team. Think about all the talent the ARU lost when they passed over the opportunity to make a West Sydney Super Team.

    • Wowzers

      Agreed, it did wonders for the A-League. From where I stand the Western Sydney Wanderers are currently one of the A-Leagues most profitable teams.

      • Aussie D

        Actually the Wanderers lost money in their first season, though this will most likely not be the case in their second season if jersey sales and crowd figures are any indication. Hopefully all of our NRC teams have a similar outcome!

    • Train Without A Station

      People can’t play rugby if they don’t have a Super Rugby team in their immediate region?

    • Marlin

      agree…also read in the Manly Daily today that the Marlins, Rats, Gordon and Norths are looking to put a combined team forward for a spot – based at Brookvale Oval. I’ll be there!

  • Baldrick

    Foxtel? Really? For fuck’s sake. Another short sighted decision by the ARU. The game won’t grow unless it’s on free to air.

    • Grickles

      ARU can’t do shit. Rugby Union in Australia’s owned by Murdoch and the ARU are too poor to do anything about it.

      • WakkaWakka

        This. Plus it’s not like any free to air stations really has an interest in Union. The ARU had to pay the ABC to air the ARC last time.

    • Train Without A Station

      Mate it’s not like they knocked back a FTA broadcaster. FTA don’t want it. They made a smart financial decision to at least get the comp funded and off the ground.
      Without Foxtel there is no comp

  • BlackFalcon

    Watch out for South Australia and its partners!

    They are pushing hard and will soon join with TAS Rugby & NT Rugby! Once the Country clubs get pissed off they will soon start supporting the S.A bid.

    You can’t call it a National Comp if it is just the best of QLD & NSW playing each other!

    Everyone forgets how many elite players started out in SA, TAS & NT.

  • Stin

    Is it too late for GAGR to put forward a tram proposal. Perhaps the emblem for the team would be an armchair?!

    • Stin

      ‘Team’ proposal…

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