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Pulver backs domestic competition

24th March 2014 08:59

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Bill Pulver ARU chairman 2013

Confident: Bill Pulver

Australian chief Bill Pulver is backing the re-launched National Rugby Championship to prove the doubters wrong and make a financial profit.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced nine teams will compete in its new domestic competition, which will kick-off in August this year.

The competition will include two teams from Queensland, four from New South Wales and one each from the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

The season will run for eleven weeks and fill a void in the domestic calendar that was left when the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC) went bust in 2007.

In its one-season existence, the ARC lost an estimated $Aus5 million ($4.5 million) and as a result there was significant opposition to re-launching it as the NRC.

The intention of another elite competition to run on the back of the Super Rugby season is to boost player depth and quality in Australia.

Pulver said with broadcasters pledging to cover the costs of the competition, and sponsors and financial guarantors backing up the teams, the business model of the NRC was sound compared to its predecessor.

"I'd be very disappointed if this competition didn't at least break even in 2014 and I think we have a real opportunity moving forward to make money out of this competition," Pulver told a media conference on Monday.

"If you want to grow the revenue of the game, which is clearly something we're interested in, and you recognise that broadcasting rights are a key component of that you have an absolute obligation to create incremental quality broadcasting content."

Half of each squad will be made up of Super Rugby players, and the other half the best local players available to each team.

A Wallaby will be assigned to each side, and Australian stars will play if released from international duties during that time, Pulver said.

Pulver said it was imperative Australia created a domestic competition on par with South Africa's Currie Cup and New Zealand's ITM Cup to provide a natural stepping stone for junior players to Super Rugby and international level.

"To think our elite season stops in July, I think is a nonsense. You would never design a season that way," he said.

"Our players go on holiday. That doesn't happen in any other country in the world."

The nine teams will be Queensland City, Queensland Country, the North Harbour Rays, the Sydney Stars, NSW Country, Greater Sydney Rams, the University of Canberra Vikings, the Melbourne Rising and the Perth Spirit.

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