The first part of the season is over and now it’s on to the championship rounds.
On Saturday Northern United locked away the Premier Swindale Shield and Marist St Pat’s took home the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield, but it’s a clean slate for these teams and all others as the next stage of the seasons begins.
The Jubilee and Hardham Cup draws are now out, and with it the race for the silverware in two months’ time.
Highlights in the draw start as early as the first round this coming weekend, with Swindale Shield winners Norths at home against one of the two sides to beat them in the first round in Poneke. Poneke won 40-35 back in round 4 and the home side will be looking to reverse that and to continue their momentum at home from the past fortnight in their opener at Jerry Collins Stadium.
Norths clash with Hutt Old Boys Marist in round 4, and then have a rematch with Old Boys-University in the final round.
Other mouthwatering match-ups to look forward to in the Jubilee Cupinclude last year’s finalists OBU and HOBM in round 2, Poneke against Tawa in round 3, HOBM and Marist St Pat’s in round 5, and the “Battle of Kilbirnie” rematch between MSP and Poneke and Tawa hosting OBU, both in round 6.
Tawa also go into the Jubilee Cup as Bill Brien Challenge Trophy holders, defending it this coming weekend against HOBM.
The Jubilee Cup was first played for in 1929, presented the previous season as a trophy for championship club rugby play on the 50th anniversary of the WRFU. University (forerunners of today’s OBU club) was the inaugural champion. The playoff series and final was introduced in 1993.
In the last 10 years there have been six different winners, including three first time Jubilee Cup champions, Oriental-Rongotai (in 2011), Tawa (2013 and 2016) and Old Boys University (2015 and 2017).
In the Hardham Cup, holders the Upper Hutt Rams start their title defence at home at Maidstone Park against Johnsonville and face neighbours Avalon in round 5.
Wainuiomata and Petone – who drew their derby match in the Swindale Shield – clash in round 4, while northern pair Johnsonville and Paremata-Plimmerton have a round 3 match-up.
There have been seven different winners of the Hardham Cup in the past 10 years and fourdifferent champions in the past five years - these being: Norths in 2013, Poneke in 2014, the Upper Hutt Rams in 2015 and 2017 and HOBM in 2016. The Hardham Cup returns to a semi-finals and format after being played as a 10-team double round-robin last season.
With the change to two-seven competitions another feature is the bye round, with defending Jubilee Cup holders OBU and Petone having their week-off first up. The order of the byes was determined using three criteria.
Criteria One: Consider ground availability of all clubs and determine if any club only has three available home weekends
No clubs had only three weeks of availability so this wasn’t required to be considered.
Criteria Two: Teams ranked 1st & 8th at the completion of the Swindale Shield will be offered an opportunity to choose their bye week as reward of being top qualifier for the Jubilee & Hardham Cups.
Northern United as top qualifier of the Jubilee Cup selected Week Three.
Petone as top qualifier of the Hardham Cup selected Week One.
Criteria Three: Work out the bye rounds.
The remaining teams were all placed in a ‘hat ‘and randomly selected. This was started at Week One (unless this option had been selected as per criteria two) with Week Seven being the last week determined.
Week 1 Old Boys University & Petone*
Week 2 Tawa & Johnsonville
Week 3 Northern United* & Upper Hutt Rams
Week 4 Poneke & Paremata-Plimmerton
Week 5 Oriental-Rongotai & Wainuiomata
Week 6 Hutt Old Boys Marist & Wellington
Week 7 Marist St Pats & Avalon
* Selected as per Criteria Two
As with last year the 14 Premier Reserve teams have also been placed into their respective second round competitions in alignment with their Premier sides, and will contest the Ed Chaney (Jubilee Cup teams) and HD Morgan (Hardham Cup teams) Cups.
All of these competitions, plus both divisions of Colts and Women’s grades, are set for Finals Day which will again be held at the Petone Recreation Ground on Saturday 4 August.
That will feature eight matches this year with the return of playoffs to the Hardham and HD Morgan competitions, and will be headlined by the Jubilee Cup Final.