The Australian Rugby Union has announced pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports and pay-television operator Foxtel as the sponsors of its new National Rugby Championship, which will provide additional broadcast content to Fox Sports.
The new domestic club rugby competition will debut in 2014 and is a third-tier tournament designed to bridge the gap between club rugby and the Super Rugby competition contested by leading franchises from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Terms of Fox Sports and Foxtel’s agreement were not disclosed, but Fox Sports will televise one live match per round plus the semi-finals and final.
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said: “The National Rugby Championship will run annually at the end of Super Rugby and club rugby seasons from August to October as a way of complementing existing competitions such as the important Premier Rugby competitions in Sydney and Queensland. It will also be self-funded thanks to the support of Fox Sports and Foxtel. This new competition will be a tremendous opportunity for rugby fans to support teams from across the country in a local competition that we hope will rival New Zealand’s ITM Cup and South Africa’s Currie Cup at a time of year when there is little local rugby being played.”
Between eight and 10 teams from major metropolitan centres are expected to be included in the inaugural competition, with competitors expected to be confirmed by February.