Club rugby dates released

Marlborough’s premier rugby competition will kick off on April 10, almost a month later than last year.

In 2020, play in the Tasman Trophy competition began on March 14, with one local round being played before the Covid lockdown was instituted. Teams then took an enforced three-month break before resuming on June 20.

This season the premier top of the south competition is scheduled to run from April 10 until the final on July 3.

The format is similar. The first part of the season involves several local derbies, plus cross-over matches against Nelson-based opponents, with points counting towards the Tasman Trophy.

Competition points earned during Tasman Trophy play also count towards the ensuing sub-union competition, which will be decided across the second part of the season.

Eleven teams will contest 11 rounds of Tasman Trophy cross-over matches, with four sides going forward to semifinals on June 26. No double-header weeks have been included in the draw at this stage.

Marlborough teams Central, Waitohi, Moutere, Awatere and Renwick will be joined by Nelson-based rivals Waimea Old Boys, Marist, Stoke, Kahurangi, Wanderers and Nelson in the battle for the prestigious trophy.

A provisional draw has been released with Awatere at home to Nelson in the first week, Moutere hosting Waimea Old Boys, Renwick at home to Stoke, Waitohi meeting Marist away and Central also on the road, playing Wanderers.

Plans are in place for a full round of Marlborough-only division one matches to follow the Tasman Trophy, running from July 10 until August 7, with a final scheduled for August 14. This option is expected to be confirmed this week.

Kahu Marfell, head of community rugby for the Tasman Rugby Union, said that, although the final dates had yet to be confirmed, it was expected that women’s club rugby would begin on April 17. Dates and teams for division two men’s rugby were yet to be finalised.

The draw for the high-profile Crusaders region First XV competition has also been released. Round one takes place on May 8 with round-robin play concluding on August 7.

Marlborough Boys’ College have drawn six home games and seven away. They begin with a fixture against Mid Canterbury Combined in Ashburton, followed by their first home fixture, against Christchurch Boys’ High School a week later.

Other home games are against Shirley BHS, Rangiora HS, St Andrew’s College, Waimea Combined and Timaru BHS.

The top-level Farah Palmer Cup competition is set to kick off on July 17 and run until September 11, while the Mitre 10 Cup will begin on August 6. The format for this year’s M10 Cup has yet to be confirmed.