The National Rugby Championship is Australia's leading domestic rugby competition. It was started in 2014 by the Australian Rugby Union as an important development in the growth of rugby in the country. It is a domestic competition involving professional players that may also be involved in the Super Rugby competition and Test rugby.
In 2014, 2015 & 2016 the competition was sponsored by Buildcorp.
There were nine teams playing in the inaugural competition, but the number of teams involved may change as decided by the ARU. In 2016 the number of teams playing was reduced to eight with the removal of the Sydney Stars team. In 2017 a team was added from Fiji, making it a 9 team competition. In 2018 the number of teams was reduced to eight again with the removal of the Greater Sydney Rams.
All Super Rugby players are required to play in the National Rugby Competition. There is a quota system used to try to fairly spread these players among the teams so they will mix with the best of the local players who make each team.
The 8 teams in the 2019 National Rugby Competition are:
Click on this link for the 2019 National Rugby Championship results
The National Rugby Championship made it's debut in 2014. It is intended as an important part of the development of the game of rugby in Australia. As stated by the Australian Rugby Union CEO, the competition will:
“For Rugby fans it will provide an opportunity to engage with an elite Rugby competition during the second half of the year, once the Super Rugby competition is completed. For players it represents the missing link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallaby selection.”
One new feature of the competition in 2014 will be variations to the usual laws of the game. These are all made with the intention of 'enhancing exciting play, rewarding risk and reducing complication in the game.' Public consultation was a part of the process in determining what changes would be made.
Nine teams played in the inaugural competition in 2104, with Super Rugby players being spread among the teams in an attempt to create an even competition. This format was retained for the 2015 season.
In 2016 changes were made. The Sydney Stars team was scrapped, leaving eight teams in the competition. The other Sydney teams had slight name changes, becoming the Western Sydney Rams and the Sydney Rays. The points system was also altered, with a try becoming 6 points and all goals worth 2 points.
In 2017 the competition returned to nine teams with the addition of a team from Fiji, called the Fijian Drua. This was done in conjunction with World Rugby as a way to promote rugby in the Pacific Islands and help Fiji retain some of it's local players. Due to ownership alterations the UC Vikings team name was changed to Canberra Vikings and the Western Sydney Rams team name was changed to Greater Sydney Rams.
In 2018 the competition was reduced to 8 teams with the removal of the Greater Sydney Rams team. The Western Force replaced the Perth Spirit team.
The competition in 2019 had the same 8 teams who played in the previous year.
The 2020 competition was cancelled because of COVID-19. The competition was then ended when the ARU renewed it's broadcasting deal and changed the provider.