It represents the best of new and old rivalries
New Zealand Rugby have confirmed that the new global scrum law changing the scrum engagement will be in use in the National Provincial Championship (NPC).
Scrum calls will change to 'crouch, bind, set' requiring the props to bind before the scrum sets. The law will be used in the Rugby Championship and will be in effect across all New Zealand rugby next year.
This season's NPC opens with last year's Cup Championship winners Counties Manukau hosting the Wellington Lions at ECOLight Stadium on Thursday 15 August.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said the NPC continues to be a competition that showcases the colour and pride of provincial rugby across New Zealand.
"The NPC continues to hold pride of place up and down the country, where rugby fans wear their provincial union colours proudly.
"It represents the best of new and old rivalries and the traditions of the Ranfurly Shield. The Provincial Unions are well into their season preparations and I know they are eager to get stuck into their campaigns for 2013."
Premiership Champions Canterbury under new coach Scott Robertson will open their campaign when they take on Taranaki while the Hawke's Bay Magpies host provincial neighbours the Manawatu Turbos as they play for the Kel Tremain Memorial trophy.
In the South, the Southland Stags host the Tasman Makos, and the season's first Ranfurly Shield challenge will see the Northland Taniwha have the first tilt at wrestling the 'log o wood' off summer guardians the Waikato Mooloos, this year being coached by Johnny Walters.
The first week's action closes out with the traditional Battle of the Bridge between Auckland and North Harbour with the two Auckland-based teams playing for the Brian Purdy Memorial Trophy and the Trans Harbour Trophy followed by Otago taking on the Bay of Plenty Steamers in Dunedin.