The Australian Provincial Championship was played as a single round-robin, with the top two teams playing off in a final for the title. Teams in the APC were the ACT Brumbies, New South Wales Waratahs, Queensland Reds, and Western Force. The APC ran for just one season in 2006 before the competition was replaced by the Australian Rugby Championship for the 2007 season.
The Wallaby Trophy and Ricoh National Championship were the top level provincial rugby union competitions in Australia prior to the Australian Provincial Championship.
The Wallaby Trophy began in 1968, contested by representrative teams from Sydney, NSW Country, Queensland, and Victoria. Victoria also competed in the Southern States Carnival against Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, and these other teams were eventually formed into a second division of the Wallaby Trophy along with the Australian Capital Territory and, later, Queensland Country. In June 1976 the ARFU announced the suspension of funding to the Wallaby Trophy competition due to financial difficulties. After 1976 there was no provincial championship for another two decades, although the Southern States Carnivals continued on.
Provincial rugby matches were still played, but not as part of an overall national competition. The NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds continued to play annual interstate games, sometimes referred to as State of the Union matches. In the 1980s and 90s, NSW and Queensland also played in the transnational SPC, Super 6 and Super 10 tournaments. Limited resources outside the rugby strongholds of Sydney and Brisbane had curtailed options for expansion in Australia until the ACT Brumbies team was formed to join the Super 12 competition in 1996.
In 1998 the State of the Union was augmented to accommodate the Brumbies with the formation of the Ricoh National Championship. This competition continued in 1999 and 2000. Over the three years, the championship was won once by each team; the Waratahs, Brumbies, and Reds.