- 14 teams compete for one Bunnings Warehouse NPC trophy for first time since 2010
- Opening round ‘Battle of the Bridge’ between Auckland and North Harbour
- Bunnings Warehouse NPC draw features 52 family-friendly day-time kick offs
- Three double-headers this weekend with the Farah Palmer Cup presented by Bunnings Warehouse
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) General Manager of Community Rugby, Steve Lancaster said there was a buzz in the provinces ahead of an action-packed opening weekend that featured the welcome return of Auckland, North Harbour and Counties Manukau.
“It’s been a disruptive couple of years for provincial rugby with Covid side-lining our Auckland-based teams last year and fans restricted from attending matches in many local communities. The start of 2022 feels like a fresh start in many ways, and you sense that energy is going to flow over onto the field with some fantastic rugby.
“The Bunnings Warehouse NPC retains a special place in the hearts and minds of many New Zealanders and we think the new format, which will see all 14 teams compete for one trophy, will only enhance the traditional rivalries that make it such a great competition,” Lancaster said.
The new Bunnings Warehouse NPC format features all 14 teams playing for one title for the first time since 2010 with the teams seeded into two conferences.
Manawatū host Canterbury in the first match of the season at 7.05PM on Friday at Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North, but arguably the feature of the opening weekend is the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ between Auckland and North Harbour, who play at Eden Park on Saturday at 7.05PM.
The other Saturday matches see Counties Manukau up against Otago at 2.05PM at Navigation Homes Stadium, while last year’s Premier champions Waikato play Hawke’s Bay at 4.35PM, at FMG Stadium Waikato.
Lancaster noted five of the seven first round matches were afternoon kick offs, a feature of the 2022 Bunnings Warehouse schedule.
“There are no COVID restrictions at our venues, 52 day-time kick offs and a number of matches being taken to smaller venues around the provinces, so it’s a great opportunity for families and communities to connect, enjoy some rugby and support their province.”
Sunday afternoon sees 2021 Championship winners Taranaki against Northland at Pukekura Park, and Tasman v Southland at Lansdowne Park, with both games on at 2.05PM, while Wellington play Bay of Plenty at 4.35PM at Sky Stadium. Round 1 comes full circle back to Central Energy Trust Stadium in Palmerston North on Wednesday night where Manawatū completes its ‘storm’ week against Auckland at 7.05PM.
Round four of the Farah Palmer Cup (FPC) presented by Bunnings Warehouse includes four double headers over the weekend with the Bunnings Warehouse NPC. Counties Manukau Heat play Canterbury Women at 11.35AM, prior to the Counties Manukau men’s match. At 2.05PM Auckland Storm and Manawatū Cyclones kick off at Eden Park, Waikato and Bay of Plenty also compete ahead of the Waikato Bunnings NPC match. On Sunday, Tasman are up against Southland at 11.35AM ahead of the Bunnings NPC match at Lansdowne Park.
All Bunnings Warehouse NPC and FPC matches will be broadcast live and exclusive on Sky. For a preview into the Bunnings Warehouse NPC season, including ins and outs and players to watch head to: SEASON PREVIEW: Bunnings NPC (2022) » Provincial Rugby
Bunnings Warehouse NPC format:
The new Bunnings Warehouse NPC format features all 14 teams playing for one title for the first time since 2010. Teams are seeded into two conferences based on the previous season’s standings following the round-robin matches and quarterfinals. Teams placed 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 will play in the Odds conference and teams placed 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 will play in the Evens conference in 2022. The round-robin includes four crossover matches per team, where teams from the Odds conference will play teams from the Evens conference.
Odds teams this season are Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Otago, Southland, and Counties Manukau. Evens teams this season include Tasman, Canterbury, Auckland, Taranaki, Manawatū, North Harbour and Northland.