New-look NRC provides improved pathways in NSW as Royal Blue jersey makes a return for Sydney


6/06/2018



By NSW Waratahs Media unit

Traditional rivalries will return to heartland New South Wales when the 2018 National Rugby Championship (NRC) kicks off later this year.

NSW Rugby today announced that Sydney Rays and NSW Country will represent the State in the NRC, bringing back the tribalism that has been the trademark of community rugby in NSW.

More importantly, the streamlined approach will also align to the organisation’s pathway development system.

NSW Waratahs General Manager: Rugby, Tim Rapp, said the move to a Sydney and NSW Country format was the cornerstone of rugby in the State in earlier days, and bringing that back would reignite the traditional rivalry.

“The decision to move to two teams means that our pathways are more defined and aligned with our overall High Performance goals of creating opportunities for our players and support staff to be involved at a higher level. At the same time, we are bringing back the rivalry that underlines Sydney and NSW Country contests like never before,” Rapp said.

He added that two teams gives NSW Rugby the ability to distribute the player talent evenly.

“There are players who are proud of their heritage, be it Sydney or NSW Country and that’s what this competition is all about. Seeing NSW Waratahs players representing their team will add extra spice to the derbies in particular.”

Rapp said the revitalised NRC will enhance the profile of the competition and provide development benefits for players and support staff.

“The NRC is distinctly different to club rugby, it’s an intense 9-week competition in a High Performance environment, which is the best development programme for players and support staff. The progression from Shute Shield to NRC is a celebration of what club rugby and provincial rugby brings to us in terms of development for Super Rugby.”

The re-jigged competition will also see a return to the familiar royal blue jersey with the historical anchor emblem to be worn by all Sydney age grade and senior teams.

Former NSW Rugby President and Sydney captain Mick Mathers has fond memories of his time playing in the royal blue jersey.

“It was the pathway to playing for your State and country, and it was such a great honour and privilege to wear the jumper. Knowing that the jersey is making a comeback this year is fantastic. And a Sydney versus NSW Country match was undoubtedly the highlight of the season back then and I am sure it will be the case again this year and for many more years to come,” said Mathers, who made his debut for NSW against New Zealand Maori at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1979.

He ended up playing 14 times for his State and two Tests for the Wallabies.

Rapp echoed Mathers’ comments on the Sydney jersey.

“This will further help with our aim of easily outlining our pathways, unifying our game and enhancing that feeling of belonging and uniformity across all teams in our State.”


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