Taniwha makes longest trip for opener
The Northland Taniwha will make the longest trip in the national provincial rugby championship series when they travel to face the Southland Stags for the opening round of the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup in August.
The draw for both the Mitre 10 Cup and Heartland Championship competitions was announced by New Zealand Rugby earlier this week where, four trophies, one Ranfurly Shield and more than 130 matches will be contested by 26 unions across 12 weeks.
Other first-up matches from the opening round of the Mitre 10 Cup include defending champions Auckland taking on neighbours North Harbour, a battle of the Cook Strait with Tasman hosting Wellington, and a cross country battle between Manawatu¯ and Hawke’s Bay.
The Taniwha will play their first home game of the campaign a week later when they face champions Auckland in round 2 at the Northland Events Centre.
Kicking off a week earlier than in previous years, the Mitre 10 Cup will run over 10 weeks of round robin with matches played between Thursday and Sunday following the removal of Wednesday night fixtures from the draw.
The top four teams from those 10 rounds in premiership and championship divisions earn the right to contest their respective semifinals in mid-October.
Elsewhere, the 12 Heartland unions kick into action two weeks later on Saturday, August 24, an eight-week modified round robin before the top four play Meads Cup semifinals and the next four go to battle for the Lochore Cup.
As the Ranfurly Shield finished 2018 in Otago, they defend it against Southland, Manawatu¯, Taranaki, Waikato and Canterbury this year.
Northland is also building up to return to the Farah Palmer Cup, the women’s national provincial rugby competition, with the draw for that to be released in the near future. Week 1: vs Southland away on thursday, August 8, with a 7.35pm kick off.
Week 2: vs (champions) Auckland at home on Thursday, August 15, at 7.35pm.
Week 3: vs Taranaki away on Sunday, August 25, at 2.05pm. Week 4: vs Hawke’s Bay at home on Saturday, August 30, at 4.35pm.
Week 5: vs Manawatu away on Thursday, September 5, at 7.35pm.
Week 6: vs Canterbury at home on Friday, September 13, at 7.35pm. Week 7: vs Bay of Plenty on Sunday, September 22 at 4.35pm. Week 8: vs Wellington away on Saturday, September 28, at 5.05pm.
Week 9: vs Tasman away on Sunday, October 6, at 2.05pm. Week 10: vs Otago at home on Sunday, October 13, at 2.05pm. The semi-finals will be played from Friday to Saturday, October 18-19, and the finals on Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26.
Blues lock Tom Robinson in the Super Rugby pre-season match at Kaikohe this month is one of several Far North players likely to figure as major components of the Northland Taniwha’s upcoming Mitre 10 Cup campaign.