Sydney (NRC team)
Sydney logo adopted 2019
UnionNSW Rugby[1]
Founded2007 (2007) (as Central Coast Rays)
re-formed as North Harbour
2014, Sydney 2016.
Disbanded2020 (competition disbanded)
LocationSydney, Australia
(Capacity: 5,000)
Woollahra Oval
Coach(es)Chris Whitaker
Captain(s)Lalakai Foketi
League(s)National Rugby Championship
Team kit

Sydney is an Australian rugby union team that competed in the National Rugby Championship (NRC). Formerly known as Sydney Rays, the team is one of two sides from New South Wales in the competition; the other being the NSW Country Eagles.

The current team plays as the all-of-Sydney side in the NRC and wears the traditional blue and yellow colours of Sydney's representative rugby teams.[2] It draws on the metropolitan sides that have represented the city for more than a century.[2][3] In 2019 the NRC side adopted as its logo the anchor insignia of the Sydney Rugby Union, which dates back to at least 1970.[4]

The team was known as the North Harbour Rays before 2016. It was renamed Sydney during a consolidation which reduced the number of NRC teams in the city from three in 2014 to eventually just one by 2018.[2] The North Harbour Rays had been formed as consortium of four Sydney clubs; Gordon, Manly, Northern Suburbs, and Warringah in 2014.[5]

North Harbour took its identity from the Central Coast Rays side that played in the earlier national competition, the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC) in 2007. It had been backed by the same four Sydney clubs, along with the Central Coast Waves.[5]


In 2007, an attempt was made to form a third tier of rugby in Australia, similar to New Zealand's ITM Cup and South Africa's Currie Cup. The newly formed competition included eight teams and was called the Australian Rugby Championship.[6] Three of those teams were based in New South Wales, including a Central Coast team.[7]

Central Coast: ARC

Central Coast logo 2007.

The Central Coast Rays team was officially launched in March 2007 by the New South Wales Rugby Union (NSWRU). The Rays' emerald and navy colours represented the ocean and bush landscape of the region.[8] The team logo featured a manta ray in navy blue, outlined in white, on a stylised emerald green and white rugby ball.[8]

The Rays' local rivals in the ARC were the Sydney Fleet and the Western Sydney Rams. The three ARC teams from New South Wales were aligned with existing clubs and regions. The clubs aligned with the Central Coast Rays were Gordon, Manly, Northern Suburbs, and Warringah, from the Shute Shield competition, as well as the Central Coast Waves.

The Central Coast Rays played their home games at the Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium at Gosford, on the New South Wales Central Coast. Bluetongue Stadium, with an all-seater capacity of 20,159, had previously hosted numerous rugby union fixtures including Central Coast Waves matches and New South Wales Waratahs matches during the Australian Provincial Championship.[9]

Rays played at Bluetongue Stadium in 2007

John McKee was the head coach of the Central Coast team.[10][11] He had previously coached the Eastwood club and worked with French club Montferrand and Irish team Connacht.[10]

After finishing second on the league table, the Central Coast Rays came from behind against the Perth Spirit in their semi-final, winning 27 to 19. The Rays hosted the Melbourne Rebels in the inaugural ARC Grand Final and won 20 to 12, becoming the inaugural (and only) champions of the ARC.

The Australian Rugby Championship was terminated at the end of 2007 after only one season of competition, with the Australian Rugby Union citing higher costs than budgeted and further projected financial losses.[12] The Central Coast Rays team was disbanded at the end of the ARC.

North Harbour

North Harbour Rays (left); Sydney Rays (right) logos

The National Rugby Championship was announced in December 2013 to commence in 2014 with expressions of interest open to any interested parties and the accepted bids decided early in 2014.

In March 2014 it was announced that the Rays would be revived as the North Harbour Rays to compete in the new National Rugby Championship.[13] The new Rays team was backed by a consortium of the same four Shute Shield clubs involved in earlier Central Coast Rays team: Manly, Warringah, Northern Suburbs and Gordon.[14]

The team played in a quartered harlequin-style strip composed of blue, red, and two shades of green from the four constituent clubs. The sleeves were gold and black, collar and shorts were white and all four clubs’ colours were featured on the socks.[15]

The Rays secured Macquarie University as their principal partner on a two-year deal, to be officially be known as the Macquarie University North Harbour Rays for the 2014 and 2015 NRC seasons.[16]

Phil Blake was initially appointed as the Rays head coach for the 2014 season, with Scott Fava, Haig Sare and Geoff Townsend as part of the coaching staff,[17] but after Blake accepted a coaching opportunity with Leicester Tigers, Geoff Townsend was promoted to the head coaching position,[18]

Damien Cummins replaced Fava as the forwards coach in 2014,[18] and Greg Peterson was named as captain.[19] In 2015, Townsend was reappointed as head coach,[20] and Luke Holmes was named as captain.


Josh Turner kicks ahead for Sydney in 2016

The team was renamed the Sydney Rays for the 2016 season.[21] Southern Districts considered switching allegiance to the Rays in 2016,[21] but remained with the Rams.[22] Damien Cummins was initially named as head coach in 2016 but he stepped down and Simon Cron was appointed to the job.[23] The Rays performed well that year and lost only once in the regular season – to eventual minor premiers NSW Country – before being knocked out in a semi-final by the Perth Spirit, who went on to win the NRC title.

Two wooden spoon seasons followed in 2017 and 2018 under, respectively, Julian Huxley[24] and Chris Whitaker.[25] The Rays' moniker and logo were dropped in 2019, a year after New South Wales Rugby had taken control of the Sydney team. Whitaker was reappointed head coach [26] and Sydney adopted the traditional masoned crown and anchor insignia of the Sydney Rugby Union for the NRC team's logo, although the anchor had been used on the plaquet of the collar [27] and in promotional material the year before.[28] The Sydney Fleet ARC team had a similar crest in 2007.[29]

Team colours

The Sydney team plays in a blue jersey with two yellow hoops on the chest that is based on the traditional design worn by Sydney representative teams for many years.[2] The blue and yellow colours were adopted in 2018, and are the colours featured on the City of Sydney coat of arms.

For the ARC in 2007, the Central Coast Rays played in a predominantly green and blue jersey. From 2014 to 2017, the North Harbour Rays team wore harlequin-style quartered strips in the various colours of its four constituent clubs.[15]

2007 (ARC)

Home grounds

Previous home venues
Venue Location Capacity
Brookvale Oval Brookvale 23,000
Central Coast Stadium Gosford 20,059
Concord Oval Concord 20,000
Leichhardt Oval Leichhardt 20,000
Macquarie University Macquarie Park 3,000
Manly Oval Manly 5,000
North Sydney Oval North Sydney 20,000
Pittwater Park Warriewood 10,000

As of 2019, Sydney play their home matches at Woollahra Oval No.1. The team has its training base at the University of NSW in Sydney's eastern suburbs, the same facility used by the Waratahs.[1]

From 2014 to 2017, the team played at several venues north of the harbour including Macquarie University and Brookvale Oval, as well as the home grounds of three of the four clubs from the Ray's ownership consortium at the time: Northern Suburbs, Manly and Warringah (i.e. at North Sydney Oval, Manly Oval and Pittwater Park, respectively). In 2018, the Sydney Rays played south of the harbour at Concord, Leichhardt and Woollahra.

For the ARC in 2007, the Rays played at Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium.


With the reemergence of the competition in the form of the NRC, fans from Manly and Warringah rugby heartland - tragic supporters of the game - formed the 'STRAYS'. In the spirit of rugby and the NRC they came together to make sure the new club had support in the local community and to 'enrich the sideline experience'. Its members were drawn to the common cause by the founder, Michael Gordon.[citation needed]

Current squad

The squad for the 2019 NRC season:

Sydney squad – NRC 2019

The initial squad was named in late August.[31] Players joining in subsequent rounds were:

  1. ^ a b c d e f Moore, Digby, Graham (Rd 1),[32] Edmed, Abrahams and Paterson (Rd 2).[33]
  2. ^ Reilly was not named in the original squad, but was named in the team for Round 5.[30]
Bold denotes player is internationally capped. (c) Denotes team captain. 1 denotes marquee player.



Season standings

National Rugby Championship

Year Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts   Play-offs
2018 8th 7 0 0 7 167 364 −197 1 1   Did not compete
2017 8th 8 3 0 5 238 322 –84 1 13   Did not compete
2016 2nd 7 6 0 1 258 174 +84 3 27   Lost semifinal by 24–42 to Perth Spirit
2015 7th 8 2 0 6 275 339 −64 3 11   Did not compete
2014 7th 8 2 2 4 240 327 −87 0 12   Did not compete

Australian Rugby Championship

Year Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts   Play-offs
2007 2nd 8 5 0 3 268 159 109 6 26   Champions

Head coaches




See also


  1. ^ a b McKay, Brett (29 August 2019). "Return of the old Sydney jersey the final missing piece of the NRC puzzle". The Roar. Archived from the original on 29 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Payten, Iain (6 June 2019). "The Sydney rugby team will return to the NRC — and will split home games between the east and west". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Football. Conclusion of the Country Week. The City beat the Country. A grand game". Sunday Times. 30 June 1885.
  4. ^ Martin James Brannan (10 May 1970). "Country Vs City Rugby Union at North Sydney Oval". Getty. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 17 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Australia relaunches National Rugby Championship". 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Mazda Australian Rugby Championship". Australian Rugby. 2007. Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  7. ^ "NSW unveils three team structure for national comp". ESPN Scrum. 6 September 2006. Archived from the original on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b "The Central Coast Rays :: A Natural Choice". 15 March 2007. Archived from the original on 6 August 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  9. ^ "Central Coast Stadium". Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  10. ^ a b "Aussie Coach Returns for Australian Rugby Championship". 20 December 2006. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  11. ^ "How It Happened - the ARC Story in NSW". Waratahs Rugby. 2007. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  12. ^ "ARU pull plug on Australian Rugby Championship". ESPN Scrum. 18 December 2007. Archived from the original on 12 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Australian Rugby Union says National Rugby Championship to start in August". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  14. ^ "ARU Board approves nine team National Rugby Championship to start in August 2014". (Press release). 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  15. ^ a b "NRC update part 2: NSW Country and the Sydney teams". The Roar. 9 July 2014. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  16. ^ "North Harbour Rays team up with Macquarie University". Macquarie University (Press release). 16 June 2014. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  17. ^ "North Harbour Rays press release". North Harbour Rays (Press release). Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  18. ^ a b Cook, Paul (9 June 2014). "NRC: Geoff Townsend Announced As North Harbour Rays Head Coach". Rugby News. Archived from the original on 13 June 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Peterson locked in to lead Rays". Rays Rugby (Press release). 20 August 2014. Archived from the original on 20 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  20. ^ "North Harbour Rays 2015 Head Coach". Sporting Scribe. 2 April 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Sydney Stars victims of National Rugby Championship consolidation". The Daily Telegraph. 11 February 2016. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  22. ^ "Questions and answers – 2016". Rams Rugby. 16 July 2016. Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  23. ^ a b "Simon Cron takes over as Rays head coach". Rays Rugby. 13 June 2016. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  24. ^ a b "Huxley to coach Rays". Australian Rugby. 13 July 2017. Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  25. ^ a b Phillips, Sam; Newman, Beth (5 August 2018). "One Percenters: Reds' off-season roller coaster ramps up". Archived from the original on 5 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  26. ^ a b Payten, Iain (16 July 2019). "Sydney, NSW Country name coaches; Tahs may recruit Foley replacement". Archived from the original on 16 July 2019.
  27. ^ "AON Series bronze is ours". 21 October 2018. Archived from the original on 17 July 2019.
  28. ^ "Sydney man of the round". 28 November 2018. Archived from the original on 17 July 2019.
  29. ^ "Sydney Fleet Ready to Launch ARC Campaign". 27 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2 May 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007.
  30. ^ "NRC Team Hub: All the teams, kick-off times and broadcast info for Round 5". 26 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Sydney and Country confirm NRC squads". NSW Waratahs. 26 August 2019. Archived from the original on 26 August 2019.
  32. ^ "NRC Team Hub - Round One: All the teams, times and stream details". 29 August 2019.
  33. ^ "NRC Team Hub: All the lineups, kick-off times and broadcast info for round two". 5 September 2019.
  34. ^ "NRC captains welcome rule changes in 2019 tournament". 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  35. ^ "Team announcement". 28 August 2017. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  36. ^ "Damien Fitzpatrick extends Waratahs stay". Sport 24. 28 August 2018. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  37. ^ "SEVENS STARS LINK WITH MU RAYS IN 2016". Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  38. ^ North Harbour Rays announce 2015 NRC squad
  39. ^ "Macquarie Uni North Harbour Rays development squad". Northern Suburbs (Press release). 3 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  40. ^ "Pek Cowan will now be aligned with the Perth Spirit". RugbyWA. 24 July 2014. Archived from the original on 28 August 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014. Alt URL
  41. ^ "Qantas Wallabies player alignments unveiled for 2014 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship". Australian Rugby. 21 July 2014. Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.