New Zealand gear up for NPC action
NPC SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand's National Provincial Cup gets underway with replays of the 2016 play-offs.
North Harbour will host Otago while Canterbury head up to Nelson to face Tasman.
The fixtures were confirmed at the launch in Auckland with captains’ and senior players from the 14 Provincial Unions on hand to show their provincial colours.
The competition is rich in history, with rivalry taking centre stage in 2017 as teams are set to wear their colours with pride and defend their provinces against their oldest rivals.
New Zealand Rugby Head of Provincial Union Rugby Steve Lancaster said the competition is always a highlight on the rugby calendar as fans get set for an exciting ten weeks of play.
"This is a special competition that sees seasoned veterans alongside young talent, putting absolutely everything on the line for their jersey, their supporters and their province.
"This year’s NPC will call on fans to get behind their team and to show their true colours, igniting the passion that makes this competition such as special part of our community," said Lancaster.
"The New Zealand Provincial Barbarians opened the British & Irish Lions tour with a simply outstanding match in Whangarei, showcasing the exciting style of provincial rugby and we can expect more of that in the NPC.”
Other first round highlights include traditional matches between Taranaki and Waikato and the Battle of the Bombays between Counties Manukau and Auckland.
The reigning champions, Canterbury, also hold the other revered piece of silverware – the Ranfurly Shield. They are set for tough challenges against Otago, Southland, Counties Manukau, Waikato and Taranaki throughout the season.
The Championship Final – to decide the promotion and relegation teams – will be played on Friday, October 27 with the NPC Premiership Final taking place on Saturday, October 28.