Premier-grade rugby team return
Pirates will be back as a premier-grade rugby team this year and two new competitions are being formed.
Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union has announced an under-21 or under-85-kilogram league and a wahine league for the 2022 season.
The premier grade, bolstered to a six-team competition with Pirates' rebirth, will include crossover games with Eastern Bay of Plenty teams, played between the first and second rounds of the Lee Brothers Shield competition.
Teams will be split into three divisions with the top two, middle two and bottom two from each competition playing over two weeks.
Premier rugby starts on March 26 with the Civil Project Solutions Money Round, a one-day competition with shortened games and cash prizes. The Tiny White Opening Day will be on April 2.
The Senior One division will also feature a crossover with Eastern BoP. The winner of the Lew Patterson Shield will play the winner of their equivalent competition. Turanga-versus-Wairoa and Poverty Bay-versus-Ngati Porou East Coast Senior One fixtures will also be played during the regular season.
The wahine league will run on Friday evenings, with 25-minute halves and rolling subs. Four rounds of play will be held. A town-and-country fixture will follow and a Turanga team will be formed for a home-and-away double-header against Eastern BoP.
The under-21 or under-85kg league will also run on Friday evenings, with three rounds of play starting on March 25 and a finals weekend, the date of which is to be confirmed. This league will also have 25-minute halves and rolling subs.
PBRFU chief executive Josh Willoughby said it was exciting to see changes that had been talked about coming to fruition.
“We spent a lot of time at the end of last year reviewing everything . . . the concept of the premier crossover with Eastern Bay of Plenty came through the players.”
He said it was decided to have the two new leagues run on weekdays to attract players who might have other commitments with family and sport through the weekend.
They had wanted to include a wahine league for several years, but the challenge had been finding suitable management and coaches for multiple new teams.
“What happened last year with the women's games with the Coast, and we got the word out there . . . we had approaches from a number of people wanting to be involved.”
The crossovers with Eastern BoP had been in discussion for a long time and Willoughby said it was an exciting opportunity for local players to see how they matched up with teams from a different competition.
“We're always open to the opportunity for more crossover competitions with the Coast.
“Our priority is always our clubs and our community rugby, and if that is strong, then the representative success will come.”
Willoughby said they were also finalising the processes of introducing a “few new things” in the Junior Advisory Board rugby sphere for the upcoming season.