The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will launch a new domestic rugby competition in 2014, the National Rugby Championship.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver announced on Tuesday the annual competition will run at the end of Super Rugby and club rugby seasons from August to October.
Pulver said the competition will feature eight to 10 teams from major centres across Australia, which will provide players with a pathway between club rugby and Super Rugby.
He said it would be self-funded through sponsorship from Fox Sports and Foxtel, with Fox Sports televising one live match per round, plus the semi-finals and final.
Pulver hopes the comp will develop to fill the same role played by the national championships in fellow SANZAR nations New Zealand and South Africa.
“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,” he said.
Expressions of interest are to be sought from existing clubs wanting to compete in the competition, either in their own right or to form a syndicate with other organisations such as universities or individuals.
Applications close on January 13, with successful teams expected to be announced by the end of February.
“This is a major vote of confidence in Australian rugby,” Pulver said.
“This competition will also offer the opportunity to introduce innovative rules to the game to improve the spectacle for our fans.
“We will continue to work with stakeholders at all levels of rugby, including at club level, to further improve the vital role they play to create elite players.”