Competition favourites? Brisbane City skipper Sam Talakai at the competition launch this week. Image: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley
rugby.com.au: Really pleased to announce that I’ll be back on board with rugby.com.au for the 2016 NRC season, providing competition coverage and filling my weekends with social media and match reporting over the nine weeks.
It all kicked off with the competition launch in Sydney yesterday, where I spoke to all eight teams and the key competition stakeholders…
The Roar: We’re beyond the awkward second-album stage now, and after an off-season of consolidation and another tweak to the points system, Australia’s National Rugby Championship is all set to explode in its third season.
All of the previous law variations introduced over the first two seasons of the NRC remain, and several have now moved into use at higher levels; Super Rugby doesn’t pull up crooked uncontested lineout throws now, they pack scrums within 30 seconds of calling for them, and penalties awarded after half or fulltime can also be played through to their logical conclusion after the bell.
The only significant tweak for 2016 is the move to six-point tries and two points for any kind of kick at goal.
I spoke to Ben Whittaker, ARU General Manager of Pathways and Performance, this week to discuss the coming NRC season…
Veteran centre Tom Carter in action for the Sydney Stars last season. The Stars have been culled from the NRC for 2016 and beyond. Image: AJF Photography
News this morning that the Australian Rugby Union will trim the National Rugby Championship back to eight teams in 2016 – with 2015 semi-finalists the Sydney Stars the team culled – is both surprising and entirely predictable.
Talk of trimming the number of teams in Sydney has been around for some time. And with the Waratahs showing absolutely no interest in the NRC, the four clubs and ARU competition resources were being stretched way too far.
Trimming Sydney back to three teams will certainly improve the quality of the playing stocks. There were numerous times in the first two seasons of the NRC when second grade Sydney clubs players were getting call-ups to NRC squads, while elsewhere, Super Rugby contracted players are coming off the bench.
But in trimming back to three teams we’ll also see some realignments of feeder clubs, and it’s very easy to see what the result will be. Continue reading