Photo: Wellington Pride midfielder Monica Tagoai in action against Canterbury during the 2022 Bunnings Warehouse Farah Palmer Cup. Credit: Getty Images
- New venues announced as FPC takes rugby to grassroots grounds
- Family friendly afternoon kick-offs feature across the season
Defending Premiership champions Canterbury will put the JJ Stewart Trophy on the line at Christchurch’s Rugby Park during the opening round of the 2023 Farah Palmer Cup (FPC) presented by Bunnings Warehouse.
The 2023 draw for New Zealand’s premier women’s provincial rugby competition has been released with the competition kicking off at the Regional Sports Park in Hastings where Hawke’s Bay will play Auckland on Saturday 15 July.
The Bunnings Warehouse FPC will take matches to three new venues in 2023. Waikato will play two Premiership home matches at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, while Northland will take their Week 5 Championship match against Taranaki to Kaikohe RFSC, and North Harbour will play their Week 6 match against Taranaki at Onewa Domain in Northcote.
“It’s great to be able to take FPC matches to some venues right in the heart of rugby communities,” New Zealand Rugby (NZR) General Manager Community Rugby Steve Lancaster said. “It’s still important for our players and fans to have big stadium experiences and those great grounds will continue to be utilised, but equally we’re looking forward to the atmosphere of some more personal venues with great rugby histories.”
Lancaster was looking forward to the FPC continuing its rapid rise in its quality and competitiveness in front of a growing fan base.
“We are seeing a surge in energy and momentum around women and girls’ rugby in the wake of the Rugby World Cup and increasing player numbers and we’re looking forward to new and old fans brining that enthusiasm and passion to our venues in 2023. The quality of athletes coming into the competition continues to be impressive and we have an increasing number of players with professional experience now able to pass on their expertise.”
The opening round JJ Stewart Trophy challenge match is the first of three scheduled at Rugby Park during the 2023 FPC Premiership draw with the others being against Bay of Plenty in Week 3 and Counties Manukau in Week 6.
There are 36 FPC round-robin matches across the Premiership and Championship divisions of the FPC during a seven-week regular season which features family friendly afternoon kick off times, with all but two 5:05pm Friday matches to be played on Saturday or Sunday, and every match televised on Sky Sport.
The seven-team Bunnings Warehouse FPC Premiership title will be contested by Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Counties Manukau with a six-week round robin followed by semi-finals and a final.
The six-team Bunnings Warehouse FPC Championship title will be contested by Tasman, Otago, Taranaki, Manawatū, North Harbour and Northland with a five-week round robin followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final. The format will see the top two teams after the round robin advance to the semi-finals and the bottom four play off in the quarterfinals (3 v 6, 4 v 5) with the two winners advancing to the semi-finals.