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This will be the year that the Australian Rugby Conference reaches new levels of fitness, physicality and skills, and with the continuation of the National Rugby Championship it will continue to do so.
The very clever manipulation of the points system in the NRC (reducing penalties to two points and increasing a try conversion to three points) resulted in the game being played at a frenetic pace and almost totally focussed on scoring tries.
This is producing a production line of players who have all come from playing attacking helter skelter rugby.
Much has been written about the attacking brand of rugby that the Waratahs, under the guidance of Michael Cheika, have played to win the Super Rugby title – and not surprisingly the crowds (and much needed revenue) are flocking back to the game.
Indeed the same brand of rugby is now being touted by many as being Australian rugby’s saving grace, as Cheika imbues his beloved running rugby ethos into the Wallabies.
Concern has been expressed by many about the loss of players to the riches of the European and Japanese rugby competitions. Indeed world class players are not manufactured overnight.
The emperors at ARU continue to fiddle (nothing has changed) while the Wallabies’ player stocks are being raided. However, what has changed is a production line of players to Super Rugby that was previously nonexistent.
It’s a production line that now prepares players to slide into the attacking rugby framework needed to allow rugby to survive in the most competitive sports market place on the planet. The only question left to answer will be what brand of rugby will the other Australian sides play.
The fearless decision to create the NRC is about to be well rewarded.