In Part 2 of the two-part National Rugby Championship Q&A, GM Development Pathways, Ben Whitaker answers queries regarding the competitions funding, broadcast rights and community engagement initiatives.
1. How are you going to promote the NRC at a grassroots level - an area often neglected outside of established private schools?
The NRC provides a fantastic national opportunity to engage with players and supporters of all ages, geographic location and backgrounds. Access to matches will be central to the strategy of recognising our passionate and strong participant pool and growing the game across Australia
2. Who will the major sponsors be? And how are you going to finance the distances between teams?
FOX SPORTS and Foxtel are the first sponsors for the NRC. We will be seeking further commercial partnerships over the next few months. Such support will enable the competition (administration, travel, accommodation) to be centrally coordinated and funded by the ARU.
3. Why only one live match and depending on how the NRC is received is there a possibility of showing more matches?
We are grateful for the support of FOX SPORTS and Foxtel. In addition to broadcasting one live match per round, FOX SPORTS will also televise the semi-finals and final.
4. Why would you have this competition on pay TV only and not open in up to free to air?
FOX SPORTS and Foxtel have been great partners of Rugby since the game turned professional in Australia in 1995. FOX SPORTS and Foxtel will apply the same production philosophy as they apply to Super Rugby. We have been very fortunate to receive significant support from FOX SPORTS and Foxtel that has enabled us to launch the NRC in 2014. We will continue to look at all options available to provide effective access for fans to the NRC.
5. TV is great, and 1 broadcasted game is a start. Will there be a possibility for a highlights package online, or via a free-to-air TV, for all games each week?
We will work closely with FOX SPORTS on opportunities to provide as much exposure for the competition as possible across various platforms. We are grateful for the support of FOX SPORTS’ one live match per round plus semi-finals and final.
6. If FOX SPORTS is only going to show one game and the finals, can the others be sold to free to air stations or streamed online?
FOX SPORTS and Foxtel own all rights to all matches. They have committed to showing a match per week plus the semi finals and finals live. Their commitment along with that of Foxtel’s has ensured that unlike the ARC there is no production contribution required by the ARU.
7. With the one broadcast game per week on FOX SPORTS, can we see this on a day or evening timeslot?
The agreement with Fox Sports nominates certain timings in which the games will be broadcast. This will be determined once the Commission completes the final structure of the competition. We will work closely with FOX SPORTS on this.
8. Similar to ITM and Currie cup will players in this tournament be paid?
We are working on the NRC player payment policy with key stakeholders at the moment and how these relate and work within our current Super Rugby and club rugby payment systems.
9. Will there be a matching women's comp?
Not in the initial roll out of the competition. Women’s Fifteens and age grade competitions, as well as the linkages to Rugby Sevens attached to the NRC are part of a broader vision for the model that will be considered in planning.
10. Where can I go for more information or to download an EOI form?
Additional information and the EOI application can be sourced at rugby.com.au, or follow the ARU on twitter to stay up to date with all the latest National Rugby Championship news @ARU_Community.