2018 National Rugby Championship draw released

Mr X Roar Guru

By Mr X, Mr X is a Roar Guru

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    The 2018 National Rugby Championship draw was released earlier today with a focus on regional grounds and grassroots footy.

    The NRC will now include just the one Sydney-based club, with the Sydney Rays and Greater Sydney Rams merged into one streamlined side.

    This has allowed for the return to the traditional Sydney versus Country rivalry.

    The highly-anticipated clash will take place on September 19 at Leichhardt Oval as part of a broader push towards making the competition more accessible in all areas of New South Wales.

    The new-look Sydney side will also play their home games at Woollahra Oval and Concord Oval while NSW Country will take the Championship to Mudgee, Armidale and Camden.

    Two-time NRC champions Brisbane City have also opted to bring their home games closer to the community, with matches scheduled to be played in the iconic grounds surrounding Ballymore.

    Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle, said this year’s draw presents fans across Australia with a great opportunity to embrace the grassroots aspect of the sport.

    “Being accessible to the community is the key to the success of the NRC and it is great to see many teams take the initiative to spread their home matches around and give more fans the opportunity to watch some quality Rugby in their own communities,” she said.

    The Western Force will also play their inaugural season in the NRC in 2018 after their strong World Series Rugby campaign. They replace Perth Spirit as the new ambassadors for Western Australia.

    Fans will be treated to a grand final replay in the opening round of the 2018 NRC when defending champions Queensland Country take on the Canberra Vikings.

    The competition officially kicks off with the Fiji Drua hosting Melbourne Rising at Ratu Cakobau Park on Saturday, September 1.

    The semi-finals start on Saturday, October 20 while the grand final will be played the following week on October 27.

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    The Crowd Says (70)

    • Roar Guru

      July 4th 2018 @ 6:27pm
      Machooka said | July 4th 2018 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

      Good to we will still get the odd game of NRC at Concord Oval 🙂

    • Roar Rookie

      July 5th 2018 @ 11:00am
      piru said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      So have they cut a team from NRC as well? Am I reading that right?

      • July 5th 2018 @ 11:25am
        Working Class Rugger said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        They’ve cut the Rams. Which honestly was on the cards after Eastwood bought the rights to the team and effectively hijacked it. Sad but as a Rams supporter I’d rather this model than Eastwood interfering with the NRC via their involvement. If you think that is unfair then look at what happened when they took compared to the momentum the Rams were building the season prior. Chalk and cheese. They just became a recruitment tool for Eastwood and nothing more. A disgrace.

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 12:19pm
          Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report


          Becoming essentially Eastwood was what made them expendable if the Waratahs wanted to align with only 2 teams.

          The stopped being Western Sydney last year when they stopped playing games further West than TG Milner, removed Western from their name, stopped picking up club players from Penright, Parramatta and West Harbour and started playing in basically an Eastwood jersey with an orange collar.

          It’s highlighted when you see that without the Rams, there’s more games held in Western Sydney (Concord and Camden) than there was last year.

          • Roar Guru

            July 5th 2018 @ 2:57pm
            rebel said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

            Western was removed from the name due to Souths involvement, not Eastwood.

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 2:44pm
          jeznez said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

          They haven’t just cut the Rams though. They’ve effectively cut Rams and Rays, having previously shed the Stars.

          What I’ve read is that the Waratahs are going to be much more involved with facilities and coaching support to the remaining Sydney and NSW Country Eagles teams.

          That effectively both will look across the Shute Shield for recruitment with players splitting based on their ‘origin’ from Sydney or broader NSW.

          Effectively breaks the link from Easts and Randwick into the country team as well.

          Is vastly better than what we have had and rate that the games are being spread around, also rate the traditional colours of Sydney in their blue and yellow, NSW Country in the black and gold/orange.

          Sydney play two home games at Concord, one at Leichardt and one at Woollahra. This emphasises the separation of Country from Easts and Uni with Woollahra being Easts home ground and Leichardt the Stars old ground. While keeping the connection to the west of Sydney/Rams via Concord.

          While NSW Country have their home games in Mudgee, Armidale, Tamworth and strangely Wests Rugby Club which doesn’t seem a home game if that is the Toowong side.

          • Roar Guru

            July 5th 2018 @ 2:53pm
            Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

            Similar top what should have been done from the start.

            Disappointed that they couldn’t keep the Rays though who I thought were a good team.

            Would have been great to keep the Rays and Rams and send NSW Country to the Brumbies. But ultimately then you’d have no inner city presence in Sydney.

            • Roar Guru

              July 5th 2018 @ 3:28pm
              jeznez said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

              I get the sentiment but that would have still butchered Sydney. Would have left the city with teams representing the north and west but abandoned the east, inner city and south.

              Effectively leaving Sydney Uni, Southern Districts, Randwick and Eastern Suburbs without a sensible pathway.

              Now it is clear cut, players from all sides filter into two teams based on whether they are native Sydney siders or have moved from the country.

          • Roar Guru

            July 5th 2018 @ 3:02pm
            rebel said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

            Looks like they have adopted the QRU model with two sides. The clubs involvement, whilst admirable due to the lack of NSWRU involvement, just wasn’t working. About time the Tahs started doing some of the heavy lifting.
            I much prefer this model as it should now be the best Shute Shield players trialing for Tahs spots and not club preferred players.

            • Roar Guru

              July 5th 2018 @ 3:06pm
              Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

              Than hands off approach from the Waratahs was extremely disappointing.

              • Roar Guru

                July 5th 2018 @ 3:21pm
                rebel said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                Agree, rest of the country got it pretty much right.

              • July 5th 2018 @ 4:08pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

                It’s just stupid too because it’s merely leveraging on existing resources that you are paying for anyway and then upskilling them a little.

                Instead of developing as coaches and undertaking a HC role at a lower level, the Waratahs coaches have just sat on their hands for 3 months in years gone by.

            • Roar Guru

              July 5th 2018 @ 3:32pm
              jeznez said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

              Rappy wearing his NSW GM hat says as much in this announcement.


              They are still calling the team the Sydney Rays but that is a hangover of a sponsorship agreement for the Women’s 7s with the side back in traditional blue and yellow.

              • Roar Guru

                July 5th 2018 @ 3:57pm
                rebel said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                Only down side I can see is they got reid of two distinct strips and we’ve got yet another blue and yellow strip.

              • July 5th 2018 @ 4:06pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

                Yeah. They look like a Bris City knock off actually.

              • Roar Guru

                July 5th 2018 @ 4:30pm
                jeznez said | July 5th 2018 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

                Agree but it is the traditional Sydney colours.

                You just need to remember that Sydney Uni are copying the Sydney colours not the other way around!

      • Roar Pro

        July 5th 2018 @ 11:29am
        robel said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        You’re right Piru, RA continue to shrink rugby to success.

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 2:18pm
          Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

          Better to maintain a footprint and go broke?

          • July 6th 2018 @ 8:29am
            Bakkies said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            Spin spin spin.

            Stop wasting money on junkets, payouts, lawyers, Sydney car park recruitment searches and paying off incompetent Rebels’ directors.

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 8:49am
              Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

              How much as been wasted on junkets?

              Who has the ARU paid out?

              Pretty sure the latest recruit came from the GC Commonwealth Games…

              • July 7th 2018 @ 2:59pm
                Bakkies said | July 7th 2018 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

                Round and round we go. I thought you knew your annual reports Cameron.

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 1:50pm
              John R said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

              Oh great, more new McCarthyism

              • Roar Guru

                July 6th 2018 @ 2:02pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

                Nah John. According to Bakkies it’s ok to make offensive and baseless claims if you dislike somebody.

              • July 7th 2018 @ 3:00pm
                Bakkies said | July 7th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

                Rubbish Cameron it is on public record.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 11:39am
        AndyS said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        Reflects their apparent vision for the NRC to be nothing more than a SR ‘B’ comp.

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 12:20pm
          Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          Nah. Reflects Eastwood purchasing the Rams and basically making them into Eastwood.

          • July 5th 2018 @ 2:18pm
            AndyS said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

            Only if it was then Eastwoods decision not to continue. If they were uninvited, then someone somewhere is imposing their view as to what the comp should be.

            As you noted above, it is all about the Waratahs. And by extension SR.

            • Roar Guru

              July 5th 2018 @ 2:39pm
              Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

              Not so much about SR, but about what the overarching body can manage adequately. Which is not much if we are talking about any of the state unions.

              When the Rams went from being the Greater Western Sydney Rams, to the de facto Eastwood Rams they offered the competition very little value.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 5th 2018 @ 11:38am
      piru said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

      It will be interesting to see what happens with the Force tbh – if they keep pulling the audiences they have been (and I suspect there will be some drop off) it could be important for rugby in Australia.

      15,000 to NRC games?

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2018 @ 12:21pm
        Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        Not really that important as crowds aren’t important for anything other team team sustainability.

        TV Viewers though – that’s a different story.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 5th 2018 @ 2:02pm
          piru said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          I think it’s pretty important

          • Roar Guru

            July 5th 2018 @ 2:13pm
            Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

            But no real impact for the NRC because:

            * It has a low cost base. Resources come from existing entities in Super Rugby, or the Western Force itself;
            * They’ve been holding games at UWA for no entry fee – so there’s no income to be gained.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 5th 2018 @ 2:28pm
              piru said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

              Yeah I should have checked that first.

              Still, we were already getting 5k at UWA last year which would be approaching standing room only. Also WF has been on FTA over here and the rugbyroos getting heaps of kids through.

              Some things are more important than money

              • Roar Guru

                July 5th 2018 @ 2:41pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

                Not when you don’t have enough money.

                Good crowds offer good sponsorship opportunities, but I’d imagine that 15k in person wouldn’t make it much more attractive than nationally televised games on Pay TV (or even better on FTA – Just internet streaming while available to all probably doesn’t offer casual engagement).

              • Roar Rookie

                July 5th 2018 @ 4:02pm
                piru said | July 5th 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                I think there’s a good chance Force games will be on FTA in WA at least

              • Roar Guru

                July 6th 2018 @ 8:58am
                Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

                I’m doubtful simply because Foxtel owns the rights.

                Good if it happens though.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 6th 2018 @ 12:12pm
                piru said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

                Rights to the Force are a different kettle at the moment I think

                Besides Fox have been getting more or less free content out of the deal, could still be attractive

              • Roar Guru

                July 6th 2018 @ 12:14pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

                Not for the NRC though I don’t think.

                The current games I understand are produced by somebody and then given to FTA and Foxtel. But the NRC are owned and produced by Foxtel.

    • July 5th 2018 @ 11:46am
      Jock the sock said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      Sydney games they will get 10-20 people. The nrc is a joke. Changing teams every year. Having a NSW Country team with only city players. They lost two best tribal teams, the rams and the rays. Nrc JOKE. A national disgrace.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 1:28pm
        Boomeranga said | July 5th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

        Take HJH, Walker, Paddy, Ned, Palmer, Miller, Holloway, and make Honouree NSW Country boys of the QLD Country boys in the Tahs squad (Mason, Wilkin, Simmons, Swinton) it’s a good start to a country team. Add Rowan Perry and any other country boys in the Shute and I’d be happy. Oh course I’d want Gordon, Newsome and Heggarty as well. They aren’t really from Sydney anyway and would he a shame to break them up. Looking forward to it.

        • July 6th 2018 @ 12:51pm
          Working Class Rugger said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          Jake Gordon grew up in Newtown. How the hell isn’t he from Sydney?

          • July 6th 2018 @ 2:05pm
            Boomeranga said | July 6th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            Simply because I want him to play for the eagles.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 4:42pm
              Working Class Rugger said | July 6th 2018 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

              Well, Newsome is from Glen Innes so he is from the country so it would be a natural fit for him. One from 3 isn’t terrible.

    • Roar Guru

      July 5th 2018 @ 12:45pm
      Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

      Stuff the draw. What about Heenan saying he won’t select the best performing 10 in Premier Rugby, “just because”. The Reds are a joke.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 1:56am
        Bfc said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:56am | ! Report

        Is Heenan singing from the same hymn sheet as the other happy clappers in the QRU and positioning himself in the line of prospective Reds coaches?
        The decision to exclude QC based on this premise is a joke…a sad joke. QC is the best performing #10 in Premier Rugby…daylight runs second and third is way, way back…
        The QRU and it’s acolytes suck…they truly suck.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 6:59am
        Peter said | July 6th 2018 @ 6:59am | ! Report

        I’ve finally lost it with the idiots at the QRU. We refuse to pick you for Queensland because we don’t like you. Go and play club football. Oh, and we won’t pick you for the NRC even though you’re the best non-SR 5/8 around because you’re not going to be picked for Queensland!
        Brad Thorn has somebody’s nuts in a vice.

        • Roar Guru

          July 6th 2018 @ 9:05am
          Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          It’s ludicrous because ultimately playing against the best players is what helps development.

          Ed Fidow wasn’t going to get a Reds contract due to not being Aus eligible but they still selected him last year. Likewise Henry Taefu and AJ Alatimu. Selective and stupid.

          • July 6th 2018 @ 12:27pm
            Dave_S said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            From rugby.com.au

            “It’s understood the QRU will not stand in Heenan’s way if he does elect to pick either Hunt or Cooper, as that would go against the policy employed in previous years, where Reds coaches have left NRC bosses to select their teams as they see fit.

            Despite that, Heenan said the pair are not currently part of the plan for the upcoming season.

            “We’re preparing as though we will be without them,” he said.

            “But they’re both good players and we will have to just wait and see.””

            Sounds like no-one even knows which hymn book they’re singing from …

            • July 6th 2018 @ 3:11pm
              Val Saunders said | July 6th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

              Now Hunt is going to play for Souths (but will be ineligible for the finals) from the bench this weekend. Just suppose he plays well over the next four weeks, indeed like the international he is. Suppose Souths win the final and Cooper is man of the match, quite likely!

              So Heenan will not pick them – even then!

              For a start why on earth would you prepare without them, especially Cooper who according to all I read is not going anywhere. Its not even as if Heenan’s side won the competition last year.

              If the NRC squad is not picked on form in club rugby what is it picked on? What benefit is there picking a No10 who may never make it in Super Rugby – how many NRC players got a Super Rugby contract last year?

              If Heenan has a problem with say Cooper now is the time to sort it out and if this requires a change by Cooper at least give him the chance.

              No wonder Oz rugby and Qld rugby is a mess!!

              • July 6th 2018 @ 3:43pm
                JP said | July 6th 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                With Hunt and QC on board Souths will be most likely top the table and be favourites for the Grand Final now . They also get back Caleb Timu. Lukhan Tui, Eto Nabuli and CFS
                ( injured ) after the Reds season is done next Friday.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 6th 2018 @ 3:43pm
                Dave_S said | July 6th 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                I omitted a quote of Heenan saying that “Obviously NRC is a development pathway for the Reds …” and there was no point in picking Cooper and Hunt accordingly.

                Sounds like Heenan is worried about upsetting the powers that be, in QRU.

                Otherwise why would he care that it’s a Reds “development pathway”?

      • July 6th 2018 @ 10:22am
        Bobo the Clown said | July 6th 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Yep Heenan sounds like another wanchor .

    • Roar Guru

      July 5th 2018 @ 2:13pm
      HardcorePrawn said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

      I see that Melbourne Rising have only three “home” games, and they’re in Adelaide, Geelong & Ballarat.
      I can understand playing in Geelong & Ballarat, but Adelaide? And no game in Melbourne itself? I would’ve thought that Melbourne’s outer suburbs would be a better place to stage Rising’s games than going to another another state.
      I can only guess that the ARU are perhaps looking at inviting an Adelaide team into the NRC at some point, and want to gauge the response.

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2018 @ 2:17pm
        Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

        Nah the Rebels/Rugby Vic have seemingly looked to take over SA too as an overarching pathway. They’re doing things like including SA Club Rugby highlights with Dewar Shield highlights and stuff.

        Talking to a colleague, we’ve concluded that the combination of possibly Adelaide, Geelong and Ballarat councils/schools offering financial incentives to play there combined with a cut in home games from 4 to 3 has seen them commit to 3 games on the road, and no 4th game being available to hold in Melbourne.

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 2:56pm
          John R said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report


          Very altruistic of them really, would’ve thought this kind of development work would fall under RA’s banner, but good on Rugby Victoria for getting involved.

          • July 6th 2018 @ 1:09am
            Nob said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:09am | ! Report

            Is smart , can help them build their fan base in those states sell jerseys ever… And hopefully snagg a few good kids into the rebels

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 8:27am
              John R said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

              Yeah not a bad way to go about things Nob, agreed mate.

              • July 6th 2018 @ 12:56pm
                Working Class Rugger said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

                Would be good to see them include games between a Dewar Shield club select side and the likes of the SA Black Falcon’s in the future.

              • Roar Guru

                July 6th 2018 @ 1:21pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                Was supposed to happen last year but SA pulled out a week before the game.

              • Roar Guru

                July 6th 2018 @ 3:31pm
                John R said | July 6th 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                Black Falcons are akin to the Victorian Axemen yeah?

          • July 6th 2018 @ 8:32am
            Bakkies said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            Well the RA are funding the VRU.

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 11:05am
              Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

              Yes. They fund every state union.

              • July 7th 2018 @ 3:05pm
                Bakkies said | July 7th 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

                Nah Cameron you paid off Rebels’ directors so they could be sold to the VRU for a dollar. Than the VRU come out with a logo similar to the RA’s. Same túrd different brush.

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 1:51pm
              John R said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              Stop the presses.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 4:44pm
              Working Class Rugger said | July 6th 2018 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

              John R,

              Yeah. The SA equivalent of the Axemen.

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