Expanded Farah Palmer Cup 2018 draw announced
• Largest number of teams to compete in over a decade
• SKY TV announces highlights show; increased live match broadcast
• Action kicks off 1 September
An impressive line-up of 12 teams will play 42 matches over eight weeks of Farah Palmer Cup, in what will be the biggest women’s provincial competition for more than ten years.
New Zealand Rugby has today released the 2018 draw, and the inclusion of Taranaki boosts the competition by one this season to 12 teams, split across premiership and championship divisions, and it all kicks off on 1 September.
Fans can expect to see more of the competition than ever before with SKY broadcasting a minimum of 16 live matches including at least one semi-final and the final, as well as premiering a dedicated weekly highlights show. The Farah Palmer Cup highlights show will be the world’s first dedicated women’s rugby highlights show.
New Zealand Rugby’s Head of Women’s Rugby Development Cate Sexton said the Farah Palmer Cup continues to grow and reinforce the growth in women’s rugby in New Zealand.
A blockbuster 12 months in the women’s game has seen a World Cup victory, Commonwealth Games Sevens gold medal, a historic contracting agreement and continual growth in player participation numbers.
“The return of Taranaki sees 12 provincial unions competing in the biggest competition in recent times, demonstrating that players know this competition is a stepping stone opportunity to higher honours.
“The introduction of Black Ferns contracts creates a professional pathway for these players which only adds motivation to what is already an exciting competition.
“It is fantastic to see SKY recognising the interest in the women’s game and commit to increased broadcasts and a highlights show, it all combines to help grow the game,” said Sexton.
SKY Director of Sport Richard Last said their commitment to New Zealand Rugby is as strong as ever.
“These recent additions to our LIVE broadcasts further demonstrates SKY’s determination to grow the women’s game in New Zealand.
“SKY will have at least one live match per round and fans will now be able to keep up to date with every team across the competition through the new highlights show as well as catching frequent LIVE double headers of Farah Palmer Cup and Mitre 10 Cup matches,” said Last.
Canterbury hold the provincial silverware after a stellar 2017 season where they claimed a maiden Farah Palmer Cup title and locked away the JJ Stewart Trophy.
They will be joined in the premiership division by last year’s championship winners Bay of Plenty, along with Counties Manukau, Waikato, Auckland and Manawatu.
Wellington, Otago, North Harbour, Tasman, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki make up the championship.
Teams play each opposition in their own division and one cross over match throughout the six week round robin.
The opening round of the competition will see last year’s premiership and championship winners, Canterbury and Bay of Plenty, come face to face while local rivals do battle in Waikato v Counties Manukau and Hawke’s Bay v Wellington fixtures.
Download the draw here.