Lunch time kick-offs, suburban grounds and World Rugby law trials headline a blockbuster National Rugby Championship in 2019 after the season draw was released today.
Fans will be able to enjoy the best of Australia’s domestic competition with fixtures scheduled around the Rugby World Cup TV schedule, with NRC clubs to host “lunch time footy” so that fans can catch all the action without missing any Wallabies matches in Japan.
A popular feature of the NRC will be continuing the use of suburban grounds, bringing fans closer to the action with all the benefits of Club Rugby.
One match per round will be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS with the remaining games to be shown LIVE on Kayo Sports and RUGBY.com.au.
The 2019 season will open with an all NSW derby between Sydney and the NSW Country Eagles at Apex Oval in Dubbo.
Defending champions, Fijian Drua will be looking to start their 2019 campaign strongly when they meet Brisbane City at GPS in Brisbane to headline the opening round fixtures.
Last year’s runners up, Queensland Country start their campaign in Perth against the Western Force, whilst Canberra Vikings travel to Melbourne to take on Melbourne Rising.
Rugby Australia will also trial two law variations for World Rugby in this year’s NRC with law 21 amended and an introduction of a 50:22 kicking play.
Law 21 will change to see the defending team be rewarded for good defence with a goal line drop out when the ball is held up in the in-goal area.
A 50:22 will reward a team that kicks the ball indirectly from open play or a free-kick from within their own half and the ball reaches the touchline inside their opponents’ 22 or the ball reaches the touchline inside their opponent’s half.
The attacking team will then have the lineout throw, rewarding aggressive territorial kicking with defending backs having to cover the option of a 50:22 kick.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle said: “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.
“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.”
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 Fijian Drua, 3.00pm, GPS Rugby Club, Brisbane
Saturday 31 August - Western Force v Queensland Country, 3.00pm, UWA, Perth
Saturday 7 September - Fijian 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 Fijian Drua, 4.00pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Sunday 15 September - Western Force v Melbourne Rising, 3.00pm, UWA, Perth
Saturday 21 September - Fijian Drua v Sydney, 2.00pm, 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 Fijian 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, Forshaw Rugby Park, 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 Fijian 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 - Fijian 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