NRC 2016 and beyond: Is four NSW NRC sides too many?

North-Harbour-Rays-vs-Greater-Sydney-Rams-Live

By Sam Ryan

Whether or not a NSW NRC side ends up making this year’s finals, the gap between the Super Rugby aligned franchises and the rest of the competition has become obvious during the 2015 National Rugby Championship.

Brisbane City and the UC Vikings will meet to play for the minor premiership this weekend and have been the standout sides all season. Behind them, Melbourne and Perth have been less impressive but are still in with a shot of making the finals despite heavily disrupted seasons to date.

And then there’s the rest…

Although the Sydney Stars and NSW Country are both currently in the top four, they’ll need to finish the season strongly if they are to limp into the finals.

QLD Country have again fallen victim to the Reds uneven distribution of talent, whist the Greater Sydney Rams and the North Harbour Rays both can’t wait for summer.

So that leaves one question. Is four NSW teams too many?

Sure the Sydney club competition is arguably the strongest in Australia and the Waratahs have had a few good seasons, but when you look beyond that, there is little in the four NSW teams favour.

At the start of every NRC season, each of the Super aligned franchises are allowed to sign 15 contracted players to their NRC side. The four NSW teams are given two marquee picks from outside of their catchment area, however these are obsolete if a ‘marquee’ player is included in his Super clubs ‘protected XV’.

Now I understand why the Super clubs don’t want there players playing elsewhere, but surely something has to change or we’ll have the same four sides contesting the finals every year.

In a nine team competition, the obvious answer is to merge the four NSW teams into two or three sides.

Not only would this create a more even competition, but it would also ensure the longevity of the financially stricken NSW clubs. Just like QLD, the NSW sides could use Moore Park as a base and reduce their operating costs by utilising the Waratahs facilities and resources.

To give an indication of how this may effect the competition, Rugby News has put together two NSW NRC ‘All Star’ sides, NSW Blue and NSW White.

The purpose of this is purely to show how strong the NSW sides could be and isn’t an indication of which sides may stay and which sides may go.

NSW Blue

  1. Benn Robinson
  2. Hugh Roach
  3. Paddy Ryan
  4. Andrew Leota
  5. Matt Philip
  6. Jack Dempsey
  7. Will Miller
  8. Jed Holloway
  9. Jake Gordon
  10. Jono Lance
  11. Paul Asquith
  12. Reece Hodge
  13. Jim Stewart
  14. Harry Jones
  15. Andrew Kellaway
  16. Dane Maraki
  17. Tom Coolican
  18. Sam Needs
  19. Harry Rorke
  20. Pauli Tuala
  21. Dewet Roos
  22. Sam Lane
  23. Ed Stubbs

NSW White

  1. Jeremy Tilse
  2. Tolu Latu
  3. Tom Robertson
  4. Sam Lousi
  5. Marcus Carbone
  6. Sam Figg
  7. Beau Robinson
  8. Dave Dennis
  9. Josh Holmes
  10. Angus Roberts
  11. Henry Clunies-Ross
  12. Dave Horwitz
  13. Tom Hill
  14. Afa Pakalani
  15. Tom Kingston
  16. Jed Gillespie
  17. Tom Sexton
  18. Dashville Juate
  19. Harry Bergelin
  20. Mitch Whitley
  21. Mitch Short
  22. Hamish Angus
  23. Michael Adams