The ARU’s pet project, the National Rugby Championship (from Aug 21), kicks off, set to become our equivalent to the ITM Cup in New Zealand and Currie Cup in South Africa. Nine teams will contest eight games each, with the competition running over 11 weeks. Bill Pulver (above) and company will no doubt be hoping that the NRC fills the gap in the rugby pathway for the players, or that we all want to keep on watching some kind of football through October. One thing, however: what’s with the team names? Melbourne Rising sounds like a charitable organisation, while the Uni of Canberra Vikings is one of those unfortunate compounds – is there actually a school for Vikings in Canberra? Fox will broadcast a live game on Thursday nights for the first five rounds, beginning with Brisbane City vs Sydney Stars (Aug 21).