Historic rivalries return and exciting new rivalries will be created, as the fifth edition of the National Rugby Championship kicks off on September 1.
Australia’s best club Rugby players will join current Super Rugby contracted players and the next generation of Super Rugby and Wallabies stars to form Australia’s seven NRC sides, alongside fan favourites, Fiji Airways Drua in the eight-team competition.
FOX SPORTS is the only place to watch every game of the NRC with no ad-breaks during play. Two games per week will be broadcast on TV, with the remaining two games available to stream LIVE via foxsports.com.au/live and the FOX SPORTS App.
The big change for 2018 comes in New South Wales, with the return of the traditional Sydney versus Country rivalry which is steeped in tradition and folklore in NSW Rugby.
The new-look Sydney side will run out in the traditional Sydney representative colours of blue and gold with the famous anchor logo reappearing on the jersey vee, and will play their home games at Leichhardt Oval, Woollahra Oval and Concord Oval.
The clash with their rivals, NSW Country is listed as an opening round fixture but will be played as a mid-week blockbuster on September 19 at Leichhardt Oval.
NSW Country’s home matches will be played in Mudgee, Armidale and Camden this season as the NRC continues its push into regional areas.
The Western Force will fly the flag for Western Australia, replacing the Perth Spirit after taking part in World Series Rugby in Perth throughout the year making UWA Sports Park their home in West Perth.
Defending Champions Bond University Queensland Country will return to the scene of their epic 2017 triumph to take on the Canberra Vikings in a Grand Final replay in the opening round, and later in the season will host the competition’s first match in Townsville.
Two-time NRC Champions McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City will move matches around the iconic club grounds surrounding Ballymore with matches at Norths, Wests and Easts Rugby Clubs.
Melbourne Rising, who visit the Drua in Nausori to officially kick off the season, will also share their home matches around the state with games in Geelong and Ballarat, as well as hosting their first interstate clash in Adelaide when they meet Brisbane City on September 22.
A four-team Finals Series will kick off on October 20, with the 2018 Grand Final to be played on Saturday, October 27.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “The standout feature of the NRC is that the quality of Rugby has grown each season and there are some exciting changes this year to build the connection with fans. It is also an excellent opportunity for Super Rugby players to share their experiences with young up and coming talent
“A great tradition has been revived in New South Wales with the return of the city versus country rivalry, which has been successful in Queensland through the first four years of the competition.
“A strong Western Force team will enter the competition off the back of their World Series Rugby campaign and fans in Adelaide and Townsville will also get to see NRC matches, along with a host of other regional centres in New South Wales.
“Being accessible to the community is the key to the success of the NRC and it is great to see many teams take the initiative to spread their home matches around and give more fans the opportunity to watch some quality Rugby in their own communities.
“We also thank FOX SPORTS for their continued support of the NRC in providing access for all Australians to get behind the competition through its TV and digital platforms.”
2018 National Rugby Championship Draw
Saturday 1 September
Fiji Drua v Melbourne Rising, Nausori, Ratu Cakobau Park, 3.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Canberra Vikings v Queensland Country, Canberra, Viking Park, 5.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sunday 2 September
Brisbane City v Western Force, Brisbane, Norths Rugby Club, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Wednesday 19 September*
Sydney v NSW Country, Sydney, Leichhardt Oval, 7.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Saturday 8 September
Fiji Drua v Brisbane City, Lautoka, Churchill Park, 3.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sydney v Canberra Vikings, Sydney, Concord Oval, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sunday 9 September
Queensland Country v Melbourne Rising, Townsville, Mike Carney Park, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Western Force v NSW Country Eagles, Perth, UWA Sports Park, 3.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Saturday 15 September
Sydney v Brisbane City, Sydney, Woollahra Oval, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
NSW Country v Melbourne Rising, Mudgee, Glen Willow Sports Stadium, 1.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Queensland Country v Fiji Drua, Mackay, BB Print Stadium, 1.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sunday 16 September
Canberra Vikings v Western Force, Canberra, Viking Park, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Saturday 22 September
Melbourne Rising v Brisbane City, Adelaide, Bailey Reserve, 12.30pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Queensland Country v Western Force, Gold Coast, Bond University, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sunday 23 September
NSW Country Eagles v Canberra Vikings, Armidale, UNE Bellevue Oval, 1.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sydney v Fiji Drua, Sydney, Concord Oval, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Saturday 29 September
Fiji Drua v NSW Country Eagles, Nausori, Ratu Cakobau Park, 3.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Canberra Vikings v Melbourne Rising, Canberra, Viking Park, 7.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sunday 30 September
Brisbane City v Queensland Country, Toowong, Wests Rugby Club, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Western Force v Sydney, Perth, UWA Sports Park, 3.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Saturday 6 October
Fiji Drua v Canberra Vikings, Lautoka, Churchill, 3.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Queensland Country v Sydney, Gold Coast, Bond University, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sunday 7 October
NSW Country Eagles v Brisbane City, Camden, Camden Rugby Park, 3.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Melbourne Rising v Western Force, Geelong, GMHBA Stadium, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Saturday 13 October
NSW Country v Queensland Country, Tamworth, Scully Park, 3.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Western Force v Fiji Drua, Perth, UWA Sports Park, 2.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Sunday 14 October
Melbourne Rising v Sydney, Ballarat, St Patrick’s School, 1.00pm, streamed LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Brisbane City v Canberra Vikings, Coorparoo, Easts Rugby Club, 2.00pm, LIVE on FOX SPORTS
Saturday 20 October
1st v 4th
Sunday 21 October
2nd v 3rd
The Final will be played on Saturday 27 October.
All times are local.
*Played later to accommodate the Shute Shield Final