Fiji to enter NRC in 2017
The Australian Rugby Union, Fiji Rugby Union and World Rugby have today announced that a Fiji-based team will enter Australia’s Buildcorp National Rugby Championship competition in 2017.
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama joined ARU CEO Bill Pulver at ARU headquarters in Sydney today to deliver the historic news.
The Fiji team will comprise locally-based players from Fiji’s national second XV, ‘Fiji Warriors’ and will play all of its home matches in Fiji.
The team’s participation in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) is being underwritten by World Rugby, allowing the Fijians to become the first overseas-based team to join the competition as it enters its fourth season in 2017.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “We are incredibly excited to welcome Fiji into the Buildcorp NRC and thank World Rugby for supporting both the ARU and FRU in helping to make this a reality for next season.
“The Fiji brand of Rugby is arguably the most exciting brand of Rugby in the world and their inclusion in the Buildcorp NRC will enhance the competition both in terms of the quality of Rugby and by adding a huge amount of support and interest from the Fijian communities both in Fiji and here in Australia.
“Most importantly, with a team based in Fiji playing in the Buildcorp NRC, talented young Rugby players in Fiji will have an opportunity to play in a quality national competition without having to relocate from Fiji to pursue their aspirations to play high-level Rugby.”
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The Pacific Islands play a major role in the sport’s heritage and future and World Rugby is committed to working with our friends and colleagues in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to further assist them with the unique challenges that they face.
“Participation in the NRC will not only provide a superb performance pathway leading in to Rugby World Cup 2019, but it provides locally-based players with a strong alternative to playing club rugby overseas should they wish to remain in the Fijian system.”
“I would like to thank the Australian Rugby Union for embracing this opportunity and enabling Fiji to participate in the National Rugby Championship from next year. I would also like to thank the Fiji Rugby Union for their full commitment to making this happen. It will be a major milestone for the sustainable growth of Fijian rugby.”
Planning for the Fijians’ inaugural season is well under way with the FRU working towards building a playing roster of up to 30 players and locking in venues for the team’s home matches. All players in the squad will be locally-based.
With the inclusion of the Fiji team, the 2017 Buildcorp NRC will be a nine-team competition. An additional round of matches will be added to make it an eight-week regular season with each team having a bye throughout the season. The Fiji team will host each of the eight Australian teams in Fiji over a two-year cycle.
The Fijians should be well suited to the fast, open style of Rugby which is synonymous with the Buildcorp NRC. This season the competition has delivered an average of 10 tries per match.
News Source: ARU Media