Earlier today, the Australian Rugby Union revealed the teams that each individual Qantas Wallaby will represent in the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship (NRC), Australia’s new domestic Rugby competition, which starts on Thursday August 21.
In total there are nine teams that will contest this competition, with each team entitled to four Wallabies that fall outside of their 33-man squad. All contracted Wallabies will be able to train and play with their NRC team depending on International duty.
Counted as Wallabies are those who represented Australian in the earlier test series against France that played out in June this year.
The only individual player from that series not aligned to a squad is Stephen Moore who was injured at the beginning of the test series. Instead Moore will be an ambassador for the competition.
Each squad is made up of players from both Super Rugby and Club Rugby, along with specific Qantas Wallabies depending on their premier club affiliation with NRC teams.
For example, James Horwill’s premier team was the Ballymore Tornadoes, which is aligned with the Brisbane City NRC team.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule including Kurtley Beale, who has been passed onto the Greater Sydney Rams despite his club Randwick being closely affiliated with the NSW Country Eagles.
One point to note is that if an NRC team wants to select more than four contracted Wallabies, they have to take a hit to their 33-man squad. Only one team, the Greater Sydney Rams, chose to accept this.
The Rams were provided with 3 back line superstars – Beale, Horne and Kuridrani, along with gaining the services of both Ben Alexander and Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Brisbane City, Melbourne Rising and Queensland Country are teams in stark contrast to the Rams, gaining only two players each.
ARU’s Andrew Fagan, General Manager of National Teams and Rugby Operations, was excited about the reveal and a large amount of positive feedback from the current Qantas Wallabies has been received since the announcement.
“The alignment of current Test players to the Buildcorp NRC is significant for the promotion of individual teams and the competition, while the potential still exists for players to train or play with their affiliated NRC team when they are not on international duty.”
Fagan also mentioned that it was important for the fans to know where each Qantas Wallabies representative was heading in the NRC, mainly because of the strong connection between player and audience.
“Rugby fans naturally have a strong connection to their national representatives, so it’s important for them to know which players are affiliated with their chosen NRC teams”, Fagan announced.
In all, there are 4 teams from NSW, 2 from Queensland, 1 from ACT, 1 from Victoria and 1 from Western Australia. Each team will play 4 home and 4 away games and be provided with a bye due to an odd-number of teams. These games will then lead into semi-finals, followed by a final.
The National Rugby Championship kicks off on Thursday August 21 at 7:30pm on Fox Sports, with one game to be televised each week.
Full NRC squads are still to be announced.
NRC ALIGNMENTS OF CONTRACTED WALLABIES (Full-list):
BRISBANE CITY: Will Genia, James Horwill
GREAT SYDNEY RAMS: Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne, Tevita Kuridrani, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau
MELBOURNE RISING: Scott Higgenbotham, Luke Jones
NORTH HARBOUR RAYS: Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu, Pek Cowan
NSW COUNTRY EAGLES: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Sekope Kepu
QUEENSLAND COUNTRY: Rob Simmons, James Slipper
PERTH SPIRIT: Nathan Charles, Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson
SYDNEY STARS: Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Will Skelton
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA VIKINGS: Sam Carter, Christian Leali’ifano, Pat McCabe, Scott Sio