The National Rugby Championship will trial 50:22 kicks, goal-line drop outs and contain midday kick-offs to avoid clashes with Wallabies’ games at the Rugby World Cup.
The innovations were revealed with Rugby Australia’s release of the NRC draw for the 2019 season, which will kick off on August 31 and runs for nine weeks.
For the first time, all matches will be streamed LIVE and free on RUGBY.com.au.
With the NRC season stretching through the Rugby World Cup, the schedule has been formatted to ensure there are no clashes with Wallabies’ games.
A number of NRC games will have “lunchtime” kickoffs at midday, ahead of Wallabies pool rounds later in the afternoon in Japan.
Sydney will take on defending champions, the Fiji Drua, for example at midday (AEST) in Lautoka before the Wallabies and Fiji meet in Sapporo at 2.45pm (AEST).
The NRC will also be used to trial two fascinating law variations for World Rugby.
Similar to league’s 40-20, the NRC will allow teams to try for a 50:22 kick, which would see a team given the lineout throw if they kick a ball from their half and find touch in their rivals’ quarter.
The law trial is hoped to create more space for more attacking play out wide, by forcing defending teams to drop wingers back.
The second law trial is designed to reward teams for good defence when they hold their rivals up over the try-line.
Currently the attacking team gets a five-metre scrum but in the NRC, the defending team will get a goal-line drop out and be able to relieve pressure.
The ball will be required to travel at least five metres, meaning there is likely to be a new line marking on the field.
“The NRC continues to be an important competition for the development of our elite Rugby talent and is also a showcase of the best Club Rugby players in Australia,” Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle said in a release.
“The competition will once again be played at suburban and regional venues across the country, giving communities and fans access to more quality Rugby at the conclusion of their club seasons.
“The Fijian Drua will again create massive fan interest for the way they play the game as they look to defend their crown, but every team has made moves to strengthen their programs ahead of the 2019 season and we are looking forward to the most competitive NRC season we’ve seen.
“As the excitement builds around the globe for the Rugby World Cup, the NRC will give fans their footy fix here at home while the Qantas Wallabies battle it out in Japan.”
“With a massive few months for our game with the Rugby World Cup, the NRC will feed fans’ desire to see live Rugby here at home, with the Qantas Wallabies battling it out in Japan at the same time.”
All matches will be streamed LIVE and free on RUGBY.com.au.
One match per round will be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo Sports will also stream remaining games.
2019 National Rugby Championship Draw (all times are local)
Saturday 31 August - NSW Country v Sydney, 12.00pm, Apex Oval, Dubbo*
Saturday 31 August - Melbourne Rising v Canberra Vikings, 1.30pm, Box Hill Rugby Club, Melbourne
Saturday 31 August - Brisbane City v Fiji Drua, 3.00pm, GPS Rugby Club, Brisbane
Saturday 31 August - Western Force v Queensland Country, 3.00pm, UWA, Perth
Saturday 7 September - Fiji Drua v Western Force, 3.00pm, ANZ Stadium, Suva
Saturday 7 September - Melbourne Rising v NSW Country, 3.30pm, Bailey Reserve, Adelaide*
Sunday 8 September - Brisbane City v Sydney, 1.00pm, Bond University, Gold Coast
Sunday 8 September - Queensland Country v Canberra Vikings, 3.00pm, Bond University, Gold Coast
Saturday 14 September - Sydney v Queensland Country, 12.00pm, Woollahra Oval, Sydney*
Saturday 14 September - Canberra Vikings v Brisbane City, 2.00pm, Viking Park, Canberra
Saturday 14 September - NSW Country v Fiji Drua, 4.00pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Sunday 15 September - Western Force v Melbourne Rising, 3.00pm, UWA, Perth
Saturday 21 September - Fiji Drua v Sydney, 2.00pm (12pm AEST), Churchill Park, Lautoka*
(Saturday 21 September- Australia v Fiji, 2.45pm AEST)
Saturday 21 September - Western Force v Canberra Vikings, 3.00pm, UWA, Perth
Sunday 22 September - Melbourne Rising v Queensland Country, 1.00pm, Mars Stadium, Ballarat
Sunday 22 September - Brisbane City v NSW Country, 4.00pm, Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday 28 September - Canberra Vikings v Fiji Drua, 12.00pm, Viking Park, Canberra*
Saturday 28 September - Queensland Country v Brisbane City, 4.00pm, Marley Brown Oval, Gladstone
Sunday 29 September - Sydney v Melbourne Rising, 1.00pm, Woollahra Oval, Sydney
Sunday 29 September - NSW Country v Western Force, 3.00pm, Port Macquarie Regional Stadium, Port Macquarie
Saturday 5 October - Canberra Vikings v Sydney, 12.00pm, Viking Park, Canberra*
(Saturday 5 October, Australia v Uruguay, 3.15pm AEST)
Saturday 5 October - Melbourne Rising v Fiji Drua, 5.30pm, Casey Fields, Melbourne
Sunday 6 October - Queensland Country v NSW Country, 3.00pm, Bond University, Gold Coast
Sunday 6 October - Western Force v Brisbane City, 3.00pm, UWA, Perth
Friday 11 October - Canberra Vikings v NSW Country, 6.00pm, Viking Park, Canberra
(Friday 11 October- Australia v Georgia, 9.15pm)
Saturday 12 October - Sydney v Western Force, 12.00pm, Woollahra Oval, Sydney*
Saturday 12 October - Fiji Drua v Queensland Country, 3.00pm, Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka
Saturday 12 October - Brisbane City v Melbourne Rising, 3.00pm, Easts Rugby Club, Brisbane
Saturday 19 October - 1st v 4th*
Sunday 20 October - 2nd v 3rd*
Saturday 26 October*
*FOX SPORTS Match of the round