|Eight quality teams going head-to-head at family-friendly times each Saturday and Sunday – the 2016 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship will be more watchable, accessible and competitive than ever before.
This year’s competition will feature Brisbane City, University of Canberra Vikings, Melbourne Rising, Perth Spirit, Queensland Country and the New South Wales triumvirate of the newly-named Sydney Rays, the Western Sydney Rams and the much-fancied NSW Country Eagles.
To celebrate the two-month landmark before the season kicks off on the 27 August when the Perth Spirit entertain the Melbourne Rising, the Australian Rugby Union has announced the 28 regular season Buildcorp National Rugby Championship clashes.
The 2016 Buildcorp NRC will be played in 14 locations across the country, including regional areas such as Tamworth and Orange in New South Wales, Frankston in Victoria and Toowoomba in Queensland giving fans across the country the opportunity to potentially watch stars such as Jono Lance, Sefania Naivalu and over 100 Super Rugby players on their own doorstep.
Back-to-back champions Brisbane City kick-off their season with a trip to the Harbour City to take on the NSW Country Eagles at Sydney University while it’s an all Sydney derby in round one with the Sydney Rays taking on the Western Sydney Rams at North Sydney Oval.
Last year’s runners-up UC Vikings play their opening home game in week two of the season when they take on the NSW Country Eagles with the perenially strong Melbourne Rising outfit playing Queensland Country at Harlequin Oval.
The Vikings travel to Queensland to play Brisbane City in a repeat of last year’s Grand Final in the game of round three and the all-NSW affair between the Sydney Rays and the NSW Country Eagles is the highlight of round four.
The Western Sydney Rams meet Queensland Country in late September with Brisbane City and Queensland Country squaring off in the Queensland derby in the final round of the regular season at Ballymore Stadium.
Each game – with the exception of one tantalising round two Friday night fixture at North Sydney Oval – will be played at 1pm AEST and 3pm AEST on Saturday and Sunday making a National Rugby Championship game the perfect day out for all of the family.
Last year’s competition saw an average of 9.2 tries every match with the ball in play an average of 35 minutes each game (compared to 32 minutes of Super Rugby). In 2016, the Buildcorp NRC will continue to be at the forefront of innovation with a revised points structure seeing six points awarded for a try, two points for a conversion and two points for a penalty goal and drop goal.
Ben Whitaker, ARU General Manager – High Performance said: “We’re all looking forward immensely to the new Buildcorp National Rugby Championship season. We’re already seeing its benefits have been far-reaching. At a grass-roots level, we’ve had players earning professional contracts out of their NRC performances. At the same time, players knocking on the door of international selection have been able to maintain their match fitness as they look to persuade the Wallabies national coach that they are ready for international selection.
“We’re confident that with the confirmation of eight teams, and the learning off the back of the first two seasons the overall quality of the National Rugby Championship product will improve in 2016 as the competition will be stronger and more competitive.”
Whitaker added: “Last year there were on average more than nine tries scored per match, and with the 2016 games being played mostly on weekend afternoons at a variety of regional and metropolitan grounds, more fans than ever before will have a chance to enjoy the thrill of the NRC.”
In a new development for 2016, FOX SPORTS will broadcast two games each weekend on television (Saturday and Sunday at 3pm) with the two remaining games (Saturday and Sunday at 1pm) available to stream LIVE via foxsports.com.au and FOX SPORTS Now via Apple TV and Telstra TV. Now fans will be able to watch every single game from the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship for the second season in succession.
In a further boost to the competition, Buildcorp will again be title sponsor of the National Rugby Championship continuing its support from 2014 and 2015.
Buildcorp Managing Director Tony Sukkar said: “Buildcorp is delighted to be extending our support of grassroots rugby through the National Rugby Championship for an additional year. Over the first two years of the competition, we have seen some exceptional talent come through the ranks and give impressive performances, propelling them on their pathway to Super Rugby and beyond.
“This talent development and team building is a big part of why we’ve supported grassroots rugby for over 25 years. While we all share a passion for the game, we also acknowledge that Buildcorp owes much of our success to identifying and supporting talent with aligned values and providing pathways for our future leaders.”
2016 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship FOX SPORTS Broadcast Games (all broadcast games kick off at 3pm AEST)
Round 1, Sat 27 August – NSW Country Eagles v Brisbane City, Sydney University
Round 1, Sun 28 August – Queensland Country v UC Vikings, Bond University
Round 2, Sat 3 September – Brisbane City v Western Sydney Rams, Ballymore Stadium
Round 2, Sun 4 September – UC Vikings v NSW Country Eagles, Viking Park
Round 3, Sat 10 Sep – Queensland Country v Sydney Rays, Bond University, Gold Coast
Round 3, Sun 11 Sep – NSW Country Eagles v Melbourne Rising, Tamworth
Round 4, Sat 17 Sep – Melbourne Rising v Brisbane City, Harlequin Oval
Round 4, Sun 18 Sep – Perth Spirit v Queensland Country, UWA Sports Park
Round 5, Sat 24 Sep – NSW Country Eagles v Perth Spirit, Endeavour Oval, Orange
Round 5, Sun 25 Sep – Brisbane City v Sydney Rays, Ballymore Stadium
Round 6, Sat 1 Oct – Sydney Rays v UC Vikings, Pittwater Rugby Park
Round 6, Sun 2 Oct – Melbourne Rising v Western Sydney Rams, Harlequins Oval
Round 7, Sat 8 Oct – Western Sydney Rams v NSW Country Eagles, Concord Oval
Round 7, Sun 9 Oct – Brisbane City v Queensland Country, Ballymore Stadium
Semi-Finals – to be played 15 and 16 October
Grand Final – to be played weekend of 22 October