National Rugby Championship

NRC 2016 – What the Players thought

NRC 2016 – What the Players thought

The Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) have recently completed their annual survey of players from this year’s NRC and the results are worth considering. All up over 120 players responded to the survey request on a variety of questions related to this year’s competition.

Some of the interesting results are as follows:

Quality of Competition

  • 90% of players said the standard of play increased in comparison to Club Rugby
  • 88% of players saying the distribution of talent across teams was improved due to the reduction to eight teams

These two stats seem to go hand in hand as cutting the Sydney teams by one provided more talent, mainly across those NSW teams, which has clearly resulted in a higher standard competition. The feeling of the players definitely seems to be one that is replicated among the fans, as evidenced by the mostly overwhelmingly positive comments across our various NRC articles and on the GAGR forum match threads.

Rugby Development

  • 82% of players said it improved their overall Rugby development
  • 80% said the standard of coaching increased in comparison to Club Rugby

This is a really heartening couple of stats, and again they go hand in hand. Given it is such a short tournament with a limited preparation phase, I was probably a little shocked by the extend of the support of these statements. It makes a fairly strong case that the NRC is working as a development competition. It also adds credence to Jeremy Paul’s comments in our podcast  with him a few months ago when he argued for an extended NRC season to provide greater development opportunities for club players. Jeremy and his fellow coaches should give themselves a big pat on their respective backs for the positive responses around the higher standard of coaching too. The NRC has copped a lot of flack for being superfluous to our needs thanks to club rugby.  These stats would indicate that it’s providing a better development outcome to club rugby.


  • 79% of players said the amount of preparation time before the commencement of the 2016 Buildcorp NRC was better than in 2015, primarily due to the three-week break between NSW & QLD Club competitions and Round One of the 2016 Buildcorp NRC

I am assuming this is driven more from the Sydney based club players as 2016 saw them enjoy and more substantial break between club and NRC seasons. Regardless, there remains a question around whether the NRC preparation is sufficient for optimal outcomes, which was another point made by Paul specifically about the Western Sydney Rams.

The Laws

  • 44% of players said we should revert back to same laws as Super Rugby

Now this is another surprising one. It would be good  to see a further breakdown of which rules the players liked and those they didn’t like, but the majority of players (just) don’t necessarily want to revert to Super Rugby laws. I’m guessing because the NRC laws do seem to encourage a more open and entertaining style of play. The players obviously enjoy playing it, and the fans who have watched it definitely do as well. The biggest question probably revolves around the point scoring and this year’s 6 point tries with many supporters suggesting the inflated scorelines provide an inaccurate perception of the games as being too loose.


  • 96% of players said their overall 2016 Buildcorp NRC experience was positive, and based on their experience in they would. if selected, play again in 2017

That’s a ripper of a result. If the players didn’t support the tournament, then it would have no future. Now  just to get more supporters watching it!

Players’ Player Award

All participating NRC players also voted on this year’s Player of the Year award. A short list of five players was determined with the winner to be announced at the annual RUPA awards lunch next month (7 December). The award contenders are:

1. Jake Gordon (NSW Country Eagles)

Jake Gordon

2. Jono Lance (Perth Spirit)


3. Izaia Perese (QLD Country)

Izaia Perese_NRC

4. Irae Simone (Sydney Rays)

Irae Simone

5. Tyrone Viiga (Western Sydney Rams)Western_Sydney_Tyrone_Viiga2









The other eight finalists originally nominated were:

  • Tom English (Melbourne Rising)
  • Damian Fitzpatrick (Sydney Rays)
  • Ned Hanigan (NSW Country Eagles)
  • Jordan Jackson-Hope (UC Vikings)
  • David Lolohea (Western Sydney Rams)
  • Matt Lucas (Sydney Rays)
  • Isi Naisarani (Brisbane City)
  • Brandon Paenga-Amosa (Western Sydney Rams)

Who’s your tip?

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