Mitre 10 Cup

Last updated

Bunnings Warehouse National Provincial Championship (NPC)
Current season, competition or edition:
Sports current event.svg 2020 Mitre 10 Cup
Mitre 10 cup logo.png
FormerlyAir New Zealand Cup (2006–09)
ITM Cup (2010–15)
Mitre 10 Cup (2016-20)
Sport Rugby union
Founded2006;15 years ago (2006)
Inaugural season 2006
CEO Steve Tew
No. of teams 14
CountryNew Zealand
Headquarters Wellington, New Zealand
Most recent
(2nd title)
Most titles Canterbury
(9 titles)
TV partner(s) Sky Sport
Sponsor(s) Mitre 10
Farah Palmer Cup
Official website

Renamed in April 2021 to the "Bunnings Warehouse National Provincial Championship", the Mitre 10 Cup is a rugby union professional competition for New Zealand provincial unions. It consists of 14 teams, divided equally between the Premiership Division and the Championship Division. The re-named Bunnings Warehouse NPC remains the second highest level of professional rugby union in New Zealand, after Super Rugby. The Mitre 10 Cup's 11-week regular and finals season runs from two weeks after Super Rugby ends to the third week after Labour Day, with each team playing 10 games and having one week playing twice. Following the conclusion of the regular season, four teams from each division advance to their respective play-offs, a single-elimination tournament of semi-finals and final.


The Mitre 10 Cup was formed in 2006 after the replacement of the original National Provincial Championship with the Air New Zealand Cup for the 2006 season. The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) introduced the beginning of a professional era, announcing New Zealand's first ever professional rugby competition following the 2005 season. Today, the Mitre 10 Cup is one of the most popular sports league in New Zealand. The team with the most NPC championships is Auckland with fifteen (with two titles after the National Provincial Championship era); the team with the most Mitre 10 Cup championships is Canterbury with nine. The current champions are Tasman, who defeated Auckland 12-13 in the 2020 final.


The 2006 reorganisation of New Zealand provincial rugby replaced the NPC's former three-division setup with two competitions. This differs from the original two-division setup used in the NPC from its creation in 1976 to 1984 in two key ways. The two current competitions are nationwide, while the original NPC Division Two was split on a North Island/South Island basis, and the NZRU ruled that there would initially be no promotion or relegation between the Air New Zealand Cup and Heartland Championship, a feature that had always been present in the former NPC. The number of teams was reduced to 26, as the Marlborough and Nelson Bays unions merged to form the new Tasman union.

The 2006 expansion of the Super 12 and Tri Nations Series had a major effect on the Air New Zealand Cup. This expansion created the Super 14, adding two extra fixtures to that competition, and also added two more Tri-Nations matches for the All Blacks in non-World Cup years. Because of these changes, it was intended for players in the All Blacks selection pool to make only limited appearances in the Air New Zealand Cup.

National Provincial Championship

Before 2006, a number of competitions involving regional and provincial rugby union teams had taken shape in New Zealand. The earliest of these was the National Provincial Championship, which was launched in 1976 and continued until 2006.

The competition was launched as the National Provincial Championship in 1976. The competition, was the major domestic rugby competition in New Zealand. The National Provincial Championship saw many alterations to its format and brand. It was first contested in 1976, and although the basic format of Division One was much the same from then until the 2006 reorganisation, there were a number of changes to the lower divisions. The only change before 2006 was in 1998, when the number of teams in each division was changed to ten in Division One, nine in Division Two, and eight in Division Three. Having an even number of teams in Division One removed the necessity for byes. Starting that year, automatic promotion/relegation between the top two divisions was ended. In its place, the winner of Division Two played a promotion-relegation match against the bottom club in Division One to determine whether the clubs would switch places. Through 2002, this match was hosted by the bottom team in Division One, but the site was changed in 2003 to the home field of the Division Two champion. Auckland were the most successful team in the championship, having won 15 of the 30 series.

Air New Zealand Cup: 2006–09

The inaugural 2006 season was played by 14 teams over 13 weeks from 28 July until the grand final on 21 October. The inaugural format saw the season split into two rounds. In round one teams split into two pools and played everybody in their pool as well as a bye week. In round two the top three teams from each pool went into the top six, which faced every team they did not play in round one Every other team was split into either Repêchage A and Repêchage B, and the winners of each repêchage filled the two remaining spots for the quarter-finals with the top six. The quarter-finals were followed by semifinals and a grand final. The new competition saw the introduction of four teams elevated from Division two of the 2005 NPC; Counties Manukau, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu and Tasman (the amalgamation of the Nelson Bays and Marlborough unions). The competition was won by Waikato 37–31, after they beat Wellington in the Grand final in front of a capacity crowd of 25,000 fans at Waikato Stadium. The leading try-scorer was emerging star Richard Kahui from Waikato with eight tries, and the leading point-scorer was Jimmy Gopperth from Wellington with 121 points.

The 2007 season saw the NZRU dumping the pool system. The new format opened with a 10-week round-robin where each team missed out on playing three of the other teams. The finals format was not changed from 2006, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and a grand final. The champion was Auckland, defeating Wellington in Wellington's second successive grand final. Auckland finished the season at the top of the points table with a record 48 competition points, winning all ten matches. Jimmy Gopperth again finished as leading points scorer with a record 155, while Brent Ward from Auckland was the top try scorer with eight tries.

The 2008 champion was Canterbury, handing Wellington its third consecutive grand final defeat in a low-scoring 7-6 game. Blair Stewart from Southland was the leading points-scorer, with 105 points, while Wellington's Hosea Gear was top try scorer with a record 14 tries. In August, the New Zealand Rugby Union announced that the Tasman and Northland teams would be relegated to lower competition after the completion of the season for failure to meet criteria which included financial stability, population, training, development, playing history, and administration. This decision was reversed in September, with Tasman and Northland remaining in the competition for two more years [1]

2009 saw more changes in the format. The season, which ran from 30 July to 25 October, was changed to a straight round-robin tournament where every team faced the others once over 13 weeks. Quarter-finals were dropped, with the top four regular season teams advancing directly to the semi-finals and the winners from each semi moving to the grand final. Regular season points were earned as per the Rugby Union Bonus Points System; 4 points for a win, 2 points for a draw and 1 point for scoring 4 tries or for losing by 7 points or less. Semi-finals were played between four teams, the teams are seeded first to fourth and the two highest seeded teams play at home against the two lowest seeded teams meaning first plays fourth and second plays third. The highest seed still remaining in the grand final played at home.


Makos v Southland 2013.jpg

The 2010 ITM Cup was the 34th provincial rugby union competition, the fifth since the competition reconstruction in 2006 and the first under the new sponsor of ITM. It ran for 15 weeks, with 13 used for a round robin and 2 for the finals, from 29 July to 5 November.

Changes in 2011 see the 14 teams split into two divisions, with the top seven playing in the Premiership, the rest in the Championship. The two divisions play each other, though their ten-game round-robin season sees each team playing only four games per year against teams in the 'other' division. Other key principles introduced was that the competitions must include Super Rugby players, have a stand-alone window, feature a full round-robin and play-offs, have promotion/relegation, guarantee four and five home games per team, be completed within a 10- to 12-week window and conclude by the end of October.

Mitre 10 Cup

In 2016, Mitre 10 replaced ITM as the competition's main sponsor, and the competition was renamed as such. The competition format of the Mitre 10 Cup is the same as that of the ITM Cup.

Bunnings Warehouse NPC Cup

in 2021 Bunnings Warehouse replaced Mitre 10 as the competition's main naming sponsor in a 3-year deal. The competition format of the Bunnings Warehouse NPC Cup is the same as that of the Mitre 10 Cup.


New Zealand location map.svg
Locations of the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup teams
          Orange pog.svg Premiership Division
          Black pog.svg Championship Division

The Mitre 10 Cup consists of 14 rugby teams divided into two divisions of 7 teams in each. Each Mitre 10 Cup union is granted a professional side. Each team is under the governance of their union, they are the top male representative team that the union has to offer. Unions are based in regions across New Zealand, while the teams have not changed since the launch of the competition in 2006.

Throughout the championship, only two unions weren't among the other 12 that first competed in 1976. North Harbour established in 1985, being one of New Zealand's youngest provincial rugby unions. They joined the provincial rugby league by winning the third division in its first season, following promotion to the first division in 1987. [2] Tasman is New Zealand's youngest provincial union. Established in 2006, it brought together the Nelson Bays and Marlborough unions. Nelson Bays amalgamated with Marlborough following the restructuring of New Zealand's provincial championship in 2006. [3]

Whilst having new additions to the competition, another two unions were renamed throughout the NPC era. North Auckland Rugby Union established in 1920, changed its name to the Northland Rugby Football Union in 1994. [4] In 1955 South Auckland Counties was formed with full union status. The name was shortened to Counties the following year and in 1996 it became the Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union. [5]

In 2008, Northland and Tasman were chosen by the New Zealand Rugby Union as teams to drop out of the Cup as the union restructures its domestic competition. Tasman had expected to be cut, especially after Marlborough had said it wanted to split from Nelson Bays and go it alone in the Heartland Championship. [6]

Format and sponsorship


The Mitre 10 Cup competition has changed a number of times. There have been up to three Divisions, with promotion/relegation between the two bottom divisions. Since 2006 there have been semi-finals and a final in each Division. Winners receive four competition points; if the game was a draw two points are awarded to each team. The Rugby union bonus points system is also used, where any team scoring four or more tries or losing by less than seven points receives an extra competition point. The top four teams at the end of the round-robin phase then played semifinals – the first placed team hosting the fourth team, and the second team hosting the third team. The two winners played the final at the home ground of the top surviving seed.

From 2013 onwards, the Mitre 10 Cup has two Divisions, the Premiership and the Championship, each with seven teams. All teams play all other teams in their own Division and four teams from the other Division. This keeps up some of the traditional provincial rivalries.

Naming rights

Mitre 10 has naming rights starting with the 2016 season, and the competition is the Mitre 10 Cup. During the Air New Zealand Cup era, airline and flag carrier of New Zealand Air New Zealand had naming rights and the competition was referred to as the Air New Zealand Cup.

In November 2015, provincial rugby sponsor ITM has been red-carded for the 2016 series. The building supplies company began its involvement in 2006, backing the national provincial series and the Heartland Championship. That sponsorship rose to competition-naming rights in 2010 when the company stepped up as major sponsor after the previous group withdrew. The ITM Cup, as it became known, started its six-season schedule. That deal ended for the 2016 season but the company wanted to renew its sponsorship. ITM put in a bid but had been told by the New Zealand Rugby Union that it had not been successful. ITM did not get a chance to match the investment from the new sponsor and had not been given any reason why it was overlooked for the twin provincial series for the next year. [7]

New Zealand-owned home improvement and garden retailer, Mitre 10 took over sponsorship in 2016 after they were announced the new title sponsor for the national domestic championship. With the inclusion of the Women's Provincial Championship and support of the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 tournament, Mitre 10 became the first sponsor of all major fifteens domestic rugby competitions in New Zealand. [8]

List of champions

Tasman gaining promotion in 2013. ITM Cup Final Tasman Makos vs Hawkes Bay Magpies 2013.jpg
Tasman gaining promotion in 2013.

The Mitre 10 Cup final is an annual New Zealand Rugby game that determines the champion of the Rugby Cup. The contest is held in a New Zealand city, chosen after the semi-finals, whom the highest seed semi-final winner is declared home advantage. Waikato defeated Wellington in the first Mitre 10 Cup Championship Game.

Before the 2006 revamp of the league, the National Provincial Championship was contested between three divisions, division one would be crowned and named the winner. Since 2011, the Premiership and Championship divisions were introduced. The winner of the Premiership Division are named the competition champion, whereas the Championship Division winner wins promotion to the Premiership to have a chance of holding the Rugby Cup and be crowned champions. So far five unions have gained promotion. Hawke's Bay twice, while Counties Manukau, Manawatu, North Harbour, Tasman, Waikato and Wellington all have been honoured once.

Canterbury have won the most finals with nine championships, while Auckland and Tasman have two and Taranaki and Waikato have one win. Canterbury has the most final appearances with ten, they also have the most consecutive appearances with six wins in a row from 2008 to 2013. Wellington are the only other team to have at least four consecutive appearances: 2006–09. Wellington have also lost a record of six finals, while Tasman and Auckland have lost three, Waikato have lost two and Canterbury losing once in 2018, the first time they've lost a final in their ten appearances. Taranaki are the only union to have a perfect record winning their only finals appearance in 2014.

FinalDateWinning teamScoreLosing teamVenueCityRef
1.21 October 2006 Waikato
(1, 1–0)
37–31 Wellington
(1, 0–1)
Waikato Stadium Hamilton, Waikato [9]
2.24 October 2007 Auckland
(1, 1–0)
23–14 Wellington
(2, 0–2)
Eden Park Auckland, Auckland [10]
3.24 October 2008 Canterbury
(1, 1–0)
7–6 Wellington
(3, 0–3)
Westpac Stadium Wellington, Wellington
4.7 November 2009 Canterbury
(2, 2–0)
28–20 Wellington
(4, 0–4)
AMI Stadium Christchurch, Canterbury
5.5 November 2010 Canterbury
(3, 3–0)
33–13 Waikato
(2, 1–1)
AMI StadiumChristchurch, Canterbury
6.3 November 2011 Canterbury
(4, 4–0)
12–3 Waikato
(3, 1–2)
Waikato StadiumHamilton, Waikato
7.27 October 2012 Canterbury
(5, 5–0)
31–18 Auckland
(2, 1–1)
AMI Stadium (Addington) Christchurch, Canterbury
8.26 October 2013 Canterbury
(6, 6–0)
29–13 Wellington
(5, 0–5)
Westpac StadiumWellington, Wellington
9.25 October 2014 Taranaki
(1, 1–0)
36–32 Tasman
(1, 0–1)
Yarrow Stadium New Plymouth, Taranaki
10.24 October 2015 Canterbury
(7, 7–0)
25–23 Auckland
(3, 1–2)
AMI Stadium (Addington)Christchurch, Canterbury
11.29 October 2016 Canterbury
(8, 8–0)
43–27 Tasman
(2, 0–2)
AMI Stadium (Addington)Christchurch, Canterbury
12.28 October 2017 Canterbury
(9, 9–0)
35–13 Tasman
(3, 0–3)
AMI Stadium (Addington)Christchurch, Canterbury [11]
13.27 October 2018 Auckland
(4, 2–2)
40–33 Canterbury
(10, 9–1)
Eden ParkAuckland, Auckland
14.26 October 2019 Tasman
(4, 1–3)
31–14 Wellington
(6, 0–6)
Trafalgar Park Nelson
15.28 November 2020 Tasman
(5, 2–3)
13–12 Auckland
(5, 2–3)
Eden ParkAuckland

Finals appearances by union

In the sortable table below, teams are ordered first by number of appearances, then by number of wins, and finally by season of first appearance. In the "Season(s)" column, bold years indicate winning seasons, and italic years indicate games not yet completed.

10 Canterbury 91.900 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012 , 2013 , 2015 , 2016 , 2017 , 2018
6 Wellington 06.000 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2019
5 Tasman 23.400 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019 , 2020
5 Auckland 23.400 2007 , 2012, 2015, 2018 , 2020
3 Waikato 12.333 2006 , 2010, 2011
1 Taranaki 101.000 2014


The Air New Zealand Cup was unveiled by New Zealand Rugby Union Deputy Chief Executive Steve Tew and Air New Zealand Chief Executive Rob Fyfe at the official launch of the Air New Zealand Cup competition in Auckland. The trophy stands 45 cm tall and weighs 3.9 kilograms. It was hand forged from 2.7 kilograms of sterling silver by master silversmith Thorkild Hansen. The inside of the cup is gilded with gold. Waihi stone carver Jeff Beckwith handcrafted the polished stone base from black basalt quarried from the Bombay Hills. [12]

Ranfurly Shield


The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is perhaps the most prestigious trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby union competition. First presented to Auckland in 1902, the Shield is based on a challenge system, rather than a league or knockout competition as with most football trophies. The holding union must defend the Shield in challenge matches, and a successful challenger becomes the new holder of the Shield. The Shield holder at the end of each season is required to accept at least seven challenges for the following year. All home games during league play, but not during knockout playoffs, in the Mitre 10 Cup or Heartland Championship are automatic challenges. The remaining Shield defences must be made up of challenges from unions in the other domestic competition. For example, since North Harbour, an Air New Zealand Cup team, held the Shield at the end of the 2006 season despite losing their home quarter-final to Otago, they were forced to defend the Shield against Heartland Championship teams during the 2007 pre-season. Having successfully done so, all their home fixtures in the round-robin phase were Shield defences until they lost the shield to Waikato. The Shield is currently held by Hawke's Bay.

Inter-union trophies

DateTeam 1ScoreTeam 2Trophy
23 September 2018 Manawatu 7-49 Wellington Coronation Cup
28 September 2018 Auckland 26-31 Otago Lindsay Colling Memorial Trophy
9 August 2019 Auckland 28-28 North Harbour Brian Purdy Battle of the Bridge Memorial Trophy
9 August 2019 Auckland 28-28 North Harbour The Newstalk 1ZB Trans Harbour Trophy
11 August 2019 Manawatu 13-31 Hawke's Bay Kel Tremain Memorial Trophy
16 August 2019 North Harbour 25-39 Counties Manukau The Lion Red Challenge Cup
17 August 2019 Otago 41-22 Southland Donald Stuart Memorial Shield
23 August 2019 Wellington 23-22 Canterbury Harry Saundercock Trophy
24 August 2019 Auckland 19-13 Bay of Plenty John Drake Memorial Trophy
29 August 2019 Wellington 29 -22 Counties Manukau Jonah Tali Lomu Memorial Trophy
31 August 2019 Waikato 20-20 Auckland Stan Thomas Trophy
8 September 2019 Auckland 22-32 Canterbury Supporters' Club Cup
14 September 2019 Taranaki 17-31 Bay of Plenty Peter Burke Trophy
12 October 2018 Taranaki 10–34 Wellington John F Henning Trophy
22 September 2018 Canterbury 47-25 Otago Payne Trophy
20 October 2018 Auckland 38-17 Wellington Fred Lucas Memorial Trophy
12 September 2018 Canterbury 31-21 North Harbour The Kevin Gimblett Memorial Trophy
9 September 2018 Taranaki 19-33 Waikato Ryan Wheeler Memorial Trophy
8 September 2018 Hawke's Bay 29-28 Bay of Plenty MacRae-Shelford Bay Cup

Player of the year

In 2017, New Zealand Rugby announced that the player of the year in the Mitre 10 Cup will receive the Duane Monkley medal named in honour of the Waikato great, playing 135 matches for the province between 1987 and 1996. The Player of the Year awards will be determined by a season-points system, with match officials picking their players of the match awarding three points, two points and one point for the game's top three performers.

Prior to 2017 it was simply awarded to the outstanding Player of the Year chosen by a panel of committee members, former players and media representatives. [13]

2006 Richard Kahui Centre Waikato
2007 Isa Nacewa Centre Auckland
2008 Jamie Mackintosh Prop Southland
2009 Mike Delany First five-eighth Bay of Plenty
2010 Robbie Fruean Centre Canterbury
2011 Aaron Cruden First five-eighth Manawatu
2012 Robbie Fruean Centre Canterbury
2013 Andrew Ellis Half-back Canterbury
2014 Seta Tamanivalu Centre Taranaki
2015 George Moala Centre Auckland
2016 Jordie Barrett Fullback Canterbury
2017 Jack Goodhue Centre Northland
2018 Luke Romano Lock Canterbury
2019 Chase Tiatia Fullback Bay of Plenty
2020 Folau Fakatava Half-back Hawke's Bay

Salary cap

In 2015 the minimum value of any contract is $18,000, paid regardless of whether the individual plays a single game or not, with that payment counting towards the salary cap. No union can spend more than $1.025 million on salaries. The maximum value of any individual contract cannot exceed $55,000 a season. Provincial unions are reimbursed by the NZRU $50,000 for every contracted All Black on their books who goes to the 2015 World Cup. If that All Black becomes available for any reason, the union has to pay back a pro-rata fee to the NZRU to gain access to the player. All Blacks unavailable due to test commitments do not count towards the salary cap. [14]

Club competitions

Each respective province competing in the Mitre 10 Cup has a number of their own club leagues, which feed into Mitre 10 Cup teams. In New Zealand, the Mitre 10 Cup is the most prominent domestic competition below the Super Rugby, in which all the respective Unions are also aligned with Super Rugby sides.

See also

Related Research Articles

Ranfurly Shield

The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is a trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby union competition. First played for in 1904, the Shield is based on a challenge system, rather than a league or knockout competition as with most football trophies. The holding union must defend the shield in challenge matches, which are played at the shield holders home venue, and if the challenger is successful in their challenge they will become the new holder of the Shield.

North Harbour Rugby Union

The North Harbour Rugby Union (NHRU), commonly known as North Harbour or simply Harbour, is the governing body of rugby union that encompasses a wide geographical area north of Auckland that includes North Shore City, Rodney District, the Hibiscus Coast and part of Waitakere City. There are 12 rugby clubs from Mahurangi RFC, based in Warkworth, Rodney District, in the north through to Massey the southernmost area of the union.

Canterbury Rugby Football Union

The Canterbury Rugby Football Union is the governing body for rugby union in a portion of the Canterbury region of New Zealand. Its colours are red and black in a hooped design. The CRFU govern the running of the Canterbury representative team which have won New Zealand's first-tier domestic competition National Provincial Championship 14 times including a "six-peat" from 2008 to 2013 – with five in the National Provincial Championship, two in the Air New Zealand Cup, five in the ITM Cup and one in the Mitre 10 Cup. Their most recent victory was the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup. Canterbury also acts as a primary feeder to the Crusaders, who play in the Super Rugby competition.

The 2006 Air New Zealand Cup was the inaugural season of the Air New Zealand Cup, contested by teams from New Zealand. The season ran from July to October 2006. At the end of the regular season, the top team from Repechage A and B joined with teams from the Top Six who entered the quarter-finals, with the winners going through to the semi-finals. The winner of each semi-final qualified for the final, which was contested between Waikato and Wellington, with Waikato winning 37–31 to win the first Air New Zealand Cup title.

Tasman Rugby Union

The Tasman Rugby Union is the governing body for rugby union in Tasman Bay / Te Tai-o-Aorere, a bay at the north end of the South Island in New Zealand. Headquartered in Nelson, TRU is New Zealand's newest provincial union, founded in 2006 with the amalgamation of the existing Marlborough and Nelson Bays sub unions.

Rugby union in New Zealand

Rugby union is the unofficial national sport of New Zealand. The national team, the All Blacks, is currently ranked the second best international rugby team in the world, after South Africa. The sport has been known in New Zealand since 1870. The top domestic competitions are the semi-professional Mitre 10 Cup and amateur Heartland Championship, and above them Super Rugby, in which New Zealand has five franchises. The country co-hosted and won the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987, and hosted and won the 2011 Rugby World Cup. They have won three World Cups, tied with South Africa, the most of any other country. They are also the current World Champions in 7s rugby for men and women.

Auckland Rugby Union

The Auckland Rugby Union are a New Zealand governing body of rugby union in the New Zealand province of Auckland. The ARU governs the running of the Auckland representative team which have won New Zealand's first-tier domestic competition, National Provincial Championship 17 times—more than any other team. Their most recent victory was the 2018 competition. Auckland also acts as a primary feeder to the Blues, who play in the Super Rugby competition.

Otago Rugby Football Union

The Otago Rugby Football Union is the official governing body of rugby union for the Otago region of New Zealand. The union is based in the city of Dunedin, and its home ground is Forsyth Barr Stadium. The top representative team competes in the ITM Cup, New Zealand's top provincial competition. The union was to have been liquidated in March 2012. However a deal involving the Dunedin City Council allowed it to keep operating.

Waikato Rugby Union

The Waikato Rugby Union (WRU) is the official governing body of rugby union in the Waikato area in the North Island of New Zealand. Headquartered in Hamilton, WRU was founded in 1921.

Manawatu Rugby Union

The Manawatu Rugby Football Union (MRU) is the governing body of the sport of rugby union in the Manawatū-Whanganui region of New Zealand.

National Provincial Championship

The National Provincial Championship, or NPC, was the major domestic rugby competition in New Zealand. The NPC saw many alterations to its format and brand. Since 2006, it has been replaced by two competitions, the Mitre 10 Cup and the Heartland Championship. From the 2011 Season, the top Division was split into two tiers based on the 2010 Table after Pool Play. Teams 1–7 were assigned to the Premiership and teams 8–14 to the Championship. There is automatic Promotion/Relegation between the two tiers and also "crossover" matches, as well as full Round Robin Matches within each tier. The Heartland Championship is also split into two tiers after pool play with the top tier playing for the Meads Cup and bottom tier playing for the Lochore Cup. Currently, all 26 of New Zealand's Provincial Unions participate in either the Mitre 10 Cup or Heartland Championship. The NPC was first contested in 1976, and although the basic format of Division One was much the same from then until the 2006 reorganisation, there were a number of changes to the lower divisions.

Heartland Championship

The Heartland Championship competition, known for sponsorship reasons as the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship, is a domestic rugby union competition in New Zealand. It was founded in 2006 as one of two successor competitions to the country's former domestic competition, the National Provincial Championship (NPC). The country's 27 provincial teams were split into two separate competitions. Thirteen of the original teams, plus one merged side created from two other teams, entered the new top-level professional competition, the Air New Zealand Cup. The remaining 12 sides entered the new Heartland Championship, whose teams contest two distinct trophies, both named after legendary New Zealand players:

The 2009 Air New Zealand Cup was the 33rd provincial rugby union competition, the fourth since the competition reconstruction in 2006, involving the top 14 provincial unions in New Zealand. It ran for 15 weeks from 30 July to 7 November. It was also the last edition of the provincial competition to use the Air New Zealand Cup name, as the competition's sponsorship contract with Air New Zealand ended after that season. The 2010 competition will be held under a new name, the ITM Cup.

The 2009 Air New Zealand Cup was a provincial rugby union competition in New Zealand, which was run as a round-robin tournament from 30 July to 25 October. There were 13 rounds where every team played each other once. The top four teams on the Air New Zealand Cup table advanced to the semi-finals, where they played for a chance in the Grand Final.

Structure of rugby union in New Zealand

Rugby union in New Zealand is structured into four tiers. The top tier is composed of the national representative teams, with the men's team – known as the All Blacks – at the top, followed by other representative sides such as the Junior All Blacks and Māori All Blacks. These national sides are administered by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU). Below this level is Super Rugby, where there are five New Zealand sides, each representing a different region of the country. Below this level is provincial rugby, the third tier – each province has a representative side that plays in either the semi-professional Mitre 10 Cup, or amateur Heartland Championship. These provincial sides are selected of Super Rugby players, and club players from within the province. Club rugby is the fourth and lowest tier, and consists of clubs competing in local leagues organised by a provincial union.

The 2010 ITM Cup season was the fifth season since the competition reconstruction in 2006. For the ITM Cup competition it involved the top 14 provincial unions of New Zealand. The tournament was won by Canterbury, who defeated Waikato 33–13 in the competition final. For sponsorship reasons, the competition was known as the ITM Cup and it was currently the first season under the new sponsor. Including the defunct National Provincial Championship, this is the 34th season of New Zealand's premier domestic competition. The regular season matches took place from 29 July until 24 October – followed by the semi-finals that culminated in the final on 5 November.

The Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union (CMRFU) is the governing body of rugby union in Southern Auckland and the Franklin district of New Zealand. Nicknamed the Steelers, their colours are red, white, and black horizontal bands. The Steelers moniker is a reference to the Glenbrook steel factory, which is in the area. The union is based in Pukekohe, and plays at Navigation Homes Stadium.

The 2015 ITM Cup season was the 10th season of New Zealand's provincial rugby union competition since it turned professional in 2006. The regular season began on August 13, when Southland hosted a game against Auckland. It involved the top fourteen rugby unions of New Zealand. For sponsorship reasons, the competition is known as the ITM Cup and it is the sixth season under the lead sponsor. The winner of the Championship will be promoted to the Premiership, the 7th placed Premiership team will be relegated to the Championship.

Farah Palmer Cup

The Farah Palmer Cup, is the highest level domestic women's rugby union competition in New Zealand and is named after the former Black Ferns captain, Farah Palmer. This contest is held annually from late August to early November and managed by the New Zealand Rugby Union, or NZRU. The competition was first introduced in 1999, with a total of fourteen teams competing initially. The number of teams increased to eighteen in the year 2000, but has decreased to as few as six teams, with 13 currently featured. Canterbury are the current holders of the JJ Stewart Trophy, the women's equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield. The Farah Palmer Cup is an amateur competition; players are not paid salaries and hold jobs outside of rugby.

The 2021 Mitre 10 Cup season is the 16th season of New Zealand's provincial rugby union competition since it became a 14 team tournament in 2006. The regular season does not currently have a scheduled start date. It involves the top fourteen provincial rugby unions of New Zealand. For sponsorship reasons, the competition is known as the Mitre 10 Cup and it is the sixth season under the lead sponsor. The winner of the Championship will be promoted to the Premiership, while the team that places last in the Premiership will be relegated.


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