Smaller unions' NPC wishes are granted

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

Relevant offers

Provincial

Dan Carter can't wait for his return to NPC Heat on officials to crack down on foul play Stags task gets trickier as Carter plots return Strategic input keeps Rickards busy at Taranaki Tongan Bear Uhila learning his art with Mooloos Tasman too slick in dominant win over Stags No 10 Dan Carter won't rush return from injury Southland lock Bekhuis hits 100 games for Stags Canterbury cook-up off-field magic for NPC Brighter season so far for hooker Rhys Marshall

The New Zealand Rugby Union has scrapped Tuesday night fixtures and extended next year's National Provincial Championship.

Eleven of the 14 provincial unions requested the NZRU change the controversial format which frustrated coaches, players and fans this season.

Now the round-robin, which this season lasted seven weeks and three days, has been stretched to nine weeks. The NPC will begin a week earlier on August 17.

While Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland stated in a feedback document they were content with the compressed tournament, the smaller unions argued mid-week games were a financial disaster and the short turnaround didn't give players enough time to recover from injuries.

The big three unions were against extending the competition because of concerns about not having some players available following a heavy Super Rugby workload.

The Super Rugby final is set to be played on August 3.

The scrapping of Tuesday night matches means teams will have only one short turnaround, instead of two, and games will now be played between Wednesday and Sunday. The finalised draw is expected to be released in February.

"There is still a very clear desire for the ITM Cup to retain a standalone window in order to preserve the windows currently for both club and Super Rugby," NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said.

"Starting a week earlier is a sensible solution that doesn't compromise those dedicated timeframes."

Meanwhile, former Canterbury openside flanker Brendon O'Connor has signed with Hawke's Bay for the next two seasons. He totalled 17 appearances for Canterbury.

O'Connor, who has signed with the Blues after being a member of the Crusaders' wider training group, did not play for Canterbury this season because of a knee injury.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers
Opinion poll

How long do you think Hawke's Bay will hold the Shield for this time?

Two weeks. Otago will take it easily.

I think they'll defend it until they play Wellington.

The rest of the season. They are too good.

Shield? Hawke's Bay? I thought Counties had it!

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content