The Australian Rugby Union is confident the relaunched National Rugby Championship, starting in August, can prove the doubters wrong and make a profit in its first year.

Nine teams from around the country, including Perth Spirit (Rugby WA/Western Force), were confirmed yesterday as participants in the NRC.

The season will run for 11 weeks from late August and fill a void in the domestic calendar that was left when the Australian Rugby Championship went bust in 2007.

In its one-season existence, the ARC burnt a $5 million black hole in the ARU's pockets and there has been opposition to going back to the well with the NRC.

It's hoped the introduction of another elite competition to run on the back of the Super Rugby season will boost player depth and quality in Australia.

Sixteen Western Force players will be in the Spirit squad.

RugbyWA wants to keep as many of its Super Rugby players as possible in Perth, but the ARU confirmed that those outside the 33-man Spirit squad could join the other eight clubs.

It is unlikely that the Force will release to Spirit mainstream players who have played the full Super season. Players who will not be re-signed at the end of the year will not be picked.

with Australian Associated Press

The West Australian

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