To follow our coverage of the Men's NPC, Farah Palmer Cup Women's NPC and Heartland Championship competitions, visit the Draws & Results link across the top of this page. Use the 'Change Competition' menu on the left-hand side of the page to view other competitions other than the default one showing.
The days of drawing large crowds of passionate fans to national provincial championship rugby matches seem to be over. Being able to watch a game on television in the comfort of your own home or the pub, busy lifestyles, having too many games of rugby on in a season or struggling to justify the financial costs of attending a game with the family are just some of the reasons we see so many empty seats at games. The Mitre 10 Cup [Men's NPC] is a provincial competition, featuring a large number of club rugby players at a level below professional Super Rugby and maybe it is time to instil some of the grassroots values from club rugby to appeal to the staunchly loyal rugby supporters. Read more here
Brad Shields (Petone) has announced that he will leave New Zealand Rugby at the conclusion of the Hurricanes 2018 Super Rugby campaign after signing up to play for Wasps in England. Shields has played 86 matches for the Hurricanes and 60 matches for the Wellington Lions. “It’s good to have my playing future confirmed nice and early so I can focus 100 per cent on the Hurricanes,” he said. “I’m passionate about the Hurricanes and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure I give everything I’ve got to my final season at the club.” Shields said taking the decision to leave New Zealand Rugby was a tough one, but right one for himself and his family.
Poneke hooker Dane Coles' rugby year from hell has taken another dark turn with the All Blacks hooker ruled out of the rest of the northern tour after suffering a serious knee injury with a ruptured ACL in Saturday night's (Sunday NZT) test against France in Paris. He will jet home immediately after Tuesday's game between the All Blacks and a French XV at Lyon's Groupama Stadium, joining the half-dozen called up from the Barbarians squad to supplement the touring New Zealanders. Coles' wrecked knee will require surgery and a recovery period his coach put in the four to six-month range, but will almost certainly sit around the longer part of that equation Read more here
Tauranga Sports beat Greerton Marist 26-14 in the men's final for the Sir Gordon Tietjens Trophy and Rangiuru edged Rangataua 19-12 to win the women's final for the Exia Edwards Trophy in the Baywide club rugby sevens tournament on Saturday.
Waikato have the second worst representation of NPC players in Super Rugby. New Zealand's five franchises revealed their 38-man squads for 2018 last week and only the championship's bottom province, Southland, have less than Waikato. The Stags failed to win a match in 2017 and the Mooloos will face them next year after being relegated from the premiership having lost a record seven straight matches. Waikato have just six Super Rugby players - including All Blacks Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown who didn't feature this season - when every other province bar Southland (four), Manawatu (eight) and Bay of Plenty (nine) have at least 10. Read more here
Rugby player numbers in New Zealand remained strong in 2017, due largely to growing numbers of females of all ages signing up. In 2017, almost one in six registered players were female, with more than 24,000 girls and women lacing up their boots, an increase of 11 percent on 2016.
Rugby by the numbers in 2017
The moons have aligned for Beauden Barrett (Coastal) to add captaincy to his list of achievements with the All Blacks. Barrett has been named at first five-eighth, and skipper, in a mostly second-string lineup to face Robbie Deans' Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday (early Sunday NZT) in front of a crowd expected to top 70,000. It will be the first time the 59-test playmaker, and 2015 World Cup winner, has led New Zealand's finest after being handed the reins at the start of the week in Kieran Read's absence. Read more here
Horowhenua Kapiti's first five James So'oialo likely holds his province's Meads Cup fortunes in his boot. The Levin-based team has never won any silverware in the Heartland Championship and their rise to the final has taken many by surprise after finishing ninth last year. The talented So'oialo landed six penalty goals in his side's 18-17 nail-biting win semifinal win over a fast finishing Buller side to make their first final against arch rivals Wanganui on Saturday. Horowhenua Kapiti know they have a mountain to climb against the five times champions, who have only missed the Meads Cup final twice since its inception in 2006. Read more here
Tasman's ability to beat Taranaki away from home has been highlighted for a second straight year after they upset the Mitre 10 Cup [Men's NPC competition] Premiership top qualifiers 30-29 in New Plymouth. The victory sets up another final in Christchurch next Saturday with Canterbury favoured to continue their domination of domestic rugby. While Taranaki looked arguably the more dangerous side for periods, they were let down badly by their discipline as they got on the wrong side of referee Nick Briant and paid the ultimate price in failing to send veteran coach Colin Cooper off in the sort of style many in their province would have wanted. Read more and watch video highlights here
Veteran Black Ferns and Auckland Storm halfback Emma Jensen has been named in the British Barbarians first women's team. Former Black Fern Jensen will join players from seven countries under the banner of the famous English club. The women's team will play a Munster outfit at Thomond Park in Limmerick, Ireland on November 10. Read more here
The All Blacks Sevens travel to Dubai to kick off the 2017/2018 HSBC Sevens World Series season next weekend.
Farmlands Co-operative have teamed up with the Gallagher Chiefs to bring top flight rugby to Te Kuiti on 2nd February. The Farmlands Rural Legends Shield will pit the two-time Super Rugby champions, the Gallagher Chiefs, against three-time winners the Blues at Te Kuiti’s Rugby Park. The game, which kicks off at 4.00pm, is an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution rural New Zealand has played in shaping our national sport.
In making its annual announcement of numbers of participants in the game this week, New Zealand Rugby announced that “rugby remain[s] a strong part of New Zealand communities” and “the game remains in an excellent shape”. However, a closer look at the statistics suggests that the core foundation of amateur Rugby Union in New Zealand, the community-based amateur club, faces significant challenges. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Above: Holloway Road, Aro Valley, which runs up Polhill’s Gully toward the south coast of Wellington Wellington's "Ghost" Rugby Clubs Part 3 – “The Working-Man’s Club” – Polhill Gully Rugby Football Club, Mitchelltown In April 1907, it was reported that “a breathless citizen rushed out of Polhill Gully the other day and baled up the first person he saw and told him to rush off and get a gun, for there was a terrible stripey animal
The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens teams play their opening tournaments of the 2017-18 season at the Oceania Sevens Championship in Fiji next weekend and have both selected their squads to open their campaigns.