NRC teams spread their wings in 2018

NRC
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

NRC teams will return to Adelaide and Townsville this season, with a swathe of different venues to play host to the provincial competition.

The 2018 NRC fixture was announced on Wednesday morning, with the Rising to play one home match in South Australia and defending champions Queensland Country to play in the state's north.

Both cities hosted matches in the 2014 NRC season, with the Spirit playing the Rams in Adelaide and Queensland Country playing the Sydney Stars in Townsville.

Sydney's Rays will shift their home matches around Sydney in 2018 as well, playing at Leichhardt, Concord and Woollahra Ovals this season.

NSW will have two teams in the competition in the fifth edition of the tournament, aligning with Queensland's City-Country model, with the Rays and NSW Country flying the flag for the state.

The Rays played their home matches at Warringah's Rat Park in recent years, but this time around will move between Concord Oval, Leichhardt and Woollahra Oval, returning to the roots of the former Sydney rugby representative sides, sporting an anchor logo on their jersey.

Brisbane City will also be mixing things up, moving some home matches away from Ballymore this season, playing at Norths, Easts and Wests during their campaign.

WA will play under the Western Force name for the first time this year, replacing the Perth Spirit, with the Force no longer in Super Rugby.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said the tweaks to the schedule in 2018 would bring the competition closer to fans.

“The standout feature of the NRC is that the quality of Rugby has grown each season and there are some exciting changes this year to build the connection with fans. It is also an excellent opportunity for Super Rugby players to share their experiences with young up and coming talent

“A great tradition has been revived in New South Wales with the return of the city versus country rivalry, which has been successful in Queensland through the first four years of the competition.

“A strong Western Force team will enter the competition off the back of their World Series Rugby campaign and fans in Adelaide and Townsville will also get to see NRC matches, along with a host of other regional centres in New South Wales.

“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.

Fiji opens the competition against Melbourne in Suva, with a 2017 grand final rematch against Queensland Country in the ACT.

FIXTURE

2018 National Rugby Championship draw

All times local

Round one

Saturday September 1

Fiji Drua vs Melbourne Rising, Nausori, Ratu Cakobau Park, 3pm 

Canberra Vikings vs Queensland Country, Canberra, Viking Park, 5pm

Sunday September 2

Brisbane City v Western Force, Brisbane, Norths Rugby Club, 3pm 

Wednesday September 19*

Sydney vs NSW Country, Sydney, Leichhardt Oval, 7pm

Round two

Saturday September 8

Fiji Drua vs Brisbane City, Lautoka, Churchill Park, 3pm

Sydney vs Canberra Vikings, Sydney, Concord Oval, 3pm

Sunday September 9

Queensland Country vs Melbourne Rising, Townsville, Mike Carney Park, 3pm

Western Force vs NSW Country Eagles, Perth, UWA Sports Park

Round three

Saturday September 15

Sydney vs Brisbane City, Sydney, Woollahra Oval, 3pm

NSW Country vs Melbourne Rising, Mudgee, Glen Willow Sports Stadium, 1pm

Queensland Country vs Fiji Drua, Mackay, BB Print Stadium, 1pm

Sunday September 16

Canberra Vikings vs Western Force, Canberra, Viking Park, 3pm

Round four

Saturday September 22

Melbourne Rising vs Brisbane City, Adelaide, Bailey Reserve, 12.30pm

Queensland Country vs Western Force, Gold Coast, Bond University, 3pm

Sunday September 23

NSW Country Eagles vs Canberra Vikings, Armidale, UNE Bellevue Oval, 1pm

Sydney vs Fiji Drua, Sydney, Concord Oval, 3pm

Round five

Saturday September 29

Fiji Drua vs NSW Country Eagles, Nausori, Ratu Cakobau Park, 3pm

Canberra Vikings vs Melbourne Rising, Canberra, Viking Park, 7pm

Sunday September 30

Brisbane City vs Queensland Country, Toowong, Wests Rugby Club, 3pm

Western Force vs Sydney, Perth, UWA Sports Park, 3pm

Round six

Saturday October 6

Fiji Drua vs Canberra Vikings, Lautoka, Churchill, 3pm

Queensland Country vs Sydney, Gold Coast, Bond University, 3pm

Sunday October 7

NSW Country Eagles vs Brisbane City, Camden, Camden Rugby Park, 3pm

Melbourne Rising vs Western Force, Geelong, GMHBA Stadium, 3pm

Round seven

Saturday October 13

NSW Country vs Queensland Country, Tamworth, Scully Park, 3pm

Western Force vs Fiji Drua, Perth, UWA Sports Park, 2pm

Sunday October 14

Melbourne Rising vs Sydney, Ballarat, St Patrick’s School, 1pm

Brisbane City vs Canberra Vikings, Coorparoo, Easts Rugby Club, 2pm

Semi-Finals

Saturday October 20

1st vs 4th

Sunday October 21

2nd vs 3rd

The final will be played on Saturday October 27.

*Played later to accommodate the Shute Shield final