Provinces select NPC cross-over games
A mathematician, a web-conference and a clutch of chief executives on a phone hook-up were the ingredients contributed to Canterbury choosing Otago as their "cross-over" (premiership v championship) home game.
This was the scene when the New Zealand Rugby Union invited media to observe representatives from the country's top 14 provinces select "cross-over" matches for next season's NPC.
Although the draw has not yet been finalised - and it will not be released until after the NZRU meets on December 13 - the premiership and championship provinces yesterday determined who they will play in their "cross-over" matches. There were four of these fixtures and the first lot had already been pre-determined with defending champions Canterbury playing bottom-seed North Harbour.
It was confirmed a mathematician from Victoria University had been asked to run the numbers to ensure there could be no complications.
And then it began. There was little risk of Canterbury Rugby Football Union chief executive Hamish Riach blowing-out his throat during the brief meeting. When asked who Canterbury would select in the second round of picks, he boldly declared: "Otago".
And his work was done.
In the opening round Tasman chief executive Andrew Flexman selected Canterbury as his province's home game and in the third and final round of picks, Manawatu's John Knowles selected Canterbury as his side's home game.
Just what shape the NPC format will take next season is yet to be confirmed.