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Encyclopedia > National Provincial Championship

The National Provincial Championship (which for sponsorship reasons, is referred to as Air New Zealand NPC or just simply NPC) is New Zealand's principal domestic rugby union competition. It is held annually, with 27 provincial unions competing in three divisions. Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Air New Zealand (IATA: NZ), ICAO: ANZ, and Callsign: New Zealand) is a major scheduled passenger airline based in Auckland, New Zealand. ... Rugby Union is a team sport that was developed from the rules used to play football at Rugby School in England. ...


The competition

The National Provincial Championship is held annually. Rugby teams from 27 provincial unions compete in three divisions, 10 in Division One, 9 in Division Two, and 8 in Division Three. There is a promotion/relegation system—the bottom placed Division One team plays the Division Two champion to determine if they swap places; whilst the bottom placed Division Two team is automatically relegated and the Division Three champion promoted.

The annual Division One/Division Two promotion/relegation match was held at the home ground of the bottom team in Division One until 2002. Starting with the 2003 season, the site of the test match was changed to the home ground of the Division Two champion.

The championship typically starts in August. Each team plays every other team in their division once in a round robin fashion. The top four ranking teams in each division then contest two semi-finals with the winners of those matches going on to contest a final. The winner of each final is then declared winner of the championship.


The NPC was first contested in 1976, and although the basic format of Division One has been much the same since then, there have been a number of changes to the lower divisions. 1976 (MCMLXXVI) is a leap year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ...

Initially, Division One was made up of 11 teams, 7 from the North Island and 4 from the South. The remaining unions contested a split Division Two, with teams from each island playing amongst themselves. The bottom placed Division One team from the South Island played the winner of the Southern Division Two to determine whether they switched divisions, whilst the bottom placed Division One team from the North Island was automatically relegated, switching places with the winner of the Northern Division Two.

The format continued until 1985, when the split Division Two was replaced by a united Division Two and a Division Three. The top and bottom placed teams in each division were automatically promoted and relegated each year. This article is about the year. ...

In 1992, three teams from Division One were relegated so there were 9 teams in each division. Also, 1992 saw the introduction of semi-finals and a final to determine the champion in each division—previously, a league system had been used. 1992 (MCMXCII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday. ...

The only change since then was in 1998, when the number of teams in each division was changed to its present arrangement of 10 in Division One, 9 in Division Two, and 8 in Division Three. Having an even number of teams in Division One removed the necessity for byes. 1998(MCMXCVIII) is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean. ...

A major realignment will take place in 2006, when the current three-division setup is replaced by a two-division setup. This differs from the two-division 1976-1984 setup, in which Division Two was split on a North Island/South Island basis, in that both divisions will be nationwide. The new divisions will be designated the Premier Division and Division One. Also, the number of teams will be reduced to 26, as two current unions will form a unified side. For more details on the new setup, click here.

The 2006 expansion of the Super 12 and Tri Nations Series will have a major effect on the NPC, at least in the new Premier Division. This expansion will create the Super 14, adding two extra fixtures to that competition, and will also add two more Tri-Nations test matches for each national side. Because of these changes, it is intended that players in the All Blacks selection pool will no longer participate in the NPC from 2006 on. This may well make the competition in the Premier Division more even than in the past. 2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Tri Nations Series is an annual international Rugby Union series held between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. ... The current Super 14 logo The Super 14 is a rugby union championship competed for by teams from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. ... All Blacks The international rugby union team of New Zealand is known the All Blacks, a name derived from their playing strip of black shirts, shorts and socks. ...

NPC teams, 2005

The NPC divisions for the just-finished 2005 season consist of:

Division One

The champion was Auckland, who defeated Otago in the final. The Canterbury Rugby Football Union is the official governing body for rugby union in a substantial part of the Canterbury region of New Zealand. ... The North Harbour Rugby Union was formed in 1985 and during this time has developed a reputation for playing quality rugby football. ... The Southland Rugby club plays as a province in Division One of the New Zealand National Provincial Championship (NPC). ...

All 10 teams in Division One will compete in the new Premier Division in 2006.

Division Two

  • Counties Manukau
  • East Coast
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Manawatu
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson Bays
  • North Otago
  • Poverty Bay
  • Wanganui

The current champion is Hawke's Bay, who defeated Nelson Bays for the Division Two title. Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union (CMRFU) is a Rugby Football Union, based in the Franklin district of New Zealand. ...

Hawke's Bay, Counties Manukau and Manawatu will be elevated to the Premier Division as intact teams. Nelson Bays will join Marlborough to form the new Tasman side in the Premier Division. East Coast, North Otago, Poverty Bay and Wanganui will enter the new Division One.

Division Three

  • Buller
  • Horowhenua-Kapiti
  • King Country
  • Mid Canterbury
  • South Canterbury
  • Thames Valley
  • Wairarapa-Bush
  • West Coast

The current champion is Wairarapa-Bush, which defeated Horowhenua-Kapiti in the final.

All Division Three teams will join the new Division One in 2006.

Changes for 2006

As noted previously, the NPC will switch to a two-division setup for 2006. The number of teams will be reduced from 27 to 26, as Nelson Bays and Marlborough will form a combined side known as "Tasman" starting that year. The new Premier Division will have 14 teams, while the new Division One will have 12; as both divisions have an even number of teams, byes will not be required. There will be no promotion or relegation between the two divisions through the 2008 season. 2008 (MMVIII) is a Leap year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Highlights of the new competition format:

  • Both divisions will be split into equally sized pools for the first round of the NPC. Each pool will be conducted as a single round-robin.
  • In the second round of both divisions, the top three teams in each first-round pool will play a round-robin against the top three from the other pool.
  • Also in the second round, the bottom four teams in each Premier Division first-round pool will be drawn into two repechage pools of four teams each, conducted as a round-robin.
  • In the second round of Division One, the bottom three teams from each first-round pool will play a round-robin against the bottom three from the other pool.
  • In the Premier Division, the top three teams from each first-round pool, plus the winners of each repechage pool, advance to a single-elimination tournament to determine the champion.
  • In Division One, the four best teams from the top six, as determined by combined results of the first two rounds, advance to a single-elimination tournament to determine the champion. Also, the four best teams from the bottom six, determined in the same manner, advance to a single-elimination secondary cup competition.

For a more detailed description of the new format, see this PDF file from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. The New Zealand Rugby Football Union is the governing body of rugby union in New Zealand. ...

The new divisional alignments will be:

Premier Division

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Counties Manukau
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Manawatu
  • North Harbour
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Tasman
  • Waikato
  • Wellington

Division One

  • Buller
  • East Coast
  • King Country
  • Horowhenua-Kapiti
  • Mid Canterbury
  • North Otago
  • Poverty Bay
  • South Canterbury
  • Thames Valley
  • Wairarapa-Bush
  • Wanganui
  • West Coast

Past NPC winners

Year First Division Winner Second Division Winner Third Division Winner
    North Island South Island  
1976 Bay of Plenty Taranaki South Canterbury  
1977 Canterbury North Auckland South Canterbury  
1978 Wellington Bay of Plenty Marlborough  
1979 Counties Hawke's Bay Marlborough  
1980 Manawatu Waikato Mid Canterbury  
1981 Wellington Wairarapa-Bush South Canterbury  
1982 Auckland Taranaki Southland  
1983 Canterbury Taranaki Mid Canterbury  
1984 Auckland Taranaki Southland  
1985 Auckland Taranaki North Harbour
1986 Wellington Waikato South Canterbury
1987 Auckland North Harbour Poverty Bay
1988 Auckland Hawke's Bay Thames Valley
1989 Auckland Southland Wanganui
1990 Auckland Hawke's Bay Thames Valley
1991 Otago King Country South Canterbury
1992 Waikato Taranaki Nelson Bays
1993 Auckland Counties Horowhenua
1994 Auckland Southland Mid Canterbury
1995 Auckland Taranaki Thames Valley
1996 Auckland Southland Wanganui
1997 Canterbury Northland Marlborough
1998 Otago Central Vikings Mid Canterbury
1999 Auckland Nelson Bays East Coast
2000 Wellington Bay of Plenty East Coast
2001 Canterbury Hawke's Bay South Canterbury
2002 Auckland Hawke's Bay North Otago
2003 Auckland Hawke's Bay Wanganui
2004 Canterbury Nelson Bays Poverty Bay
2005 Auckland Hawke's Bay Wairarapa-Bush

Note: From 1976 to 1984 there was no third division, and also the second division was divided into North and South Island competitions. From 2006 on, there will be only two divisions, both organised on a nationwide basis. The North Harbour Rugby Union was formed in 1985 and during this time has developed a reputation for playing quality rugby football. ... The North Harbour Rugby Union was formed in 1985 and during this time has developed a reputation for playing quality rugby football. ...

See also

The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log of Wood, is perhaps the most prestigious trophy in New Zealands domestic rugby union competition. ...

External links

  • Official NPC website
  • 2005 NPC fixtures, Division One
  • 2005 NPC fixtures, Division Two
  • 2005 NPC fixtures, Division Three
  • NPC news from Planet Rugby



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