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The NZRL National Premiership (Bartercard Cup) remains largely unchanged in 2007 with the same ten franchise based teams competing in two full rounds commencing April and culminating in a September Grand Final.
Fewer split rounds and a shorter play-off format (top four rather than top five) have reduced the duration of the premiership season from 26 weeks this year to 22 in 2007.
This move is partly intended to assist Maori Television to increase the free to air coverage of Bartercard Cup from one game per week seen in 2006, to two games per week next year.
The format of the 2007 coverage is still to be finalised as NZRL and Maori Television review the season and look to build on the gains made in 2006.
A notable feature of the proposed National Competitions format attached is the ?ramp up? of the national junior competitions at the critical under 16 and under 18 age groups.
The NJC16s will be an expanded format including more district leagues participating in regional pool play and culminating in a National 16s final on the same weekend that Bartercard Cup commences.
This means the National 16?s Grand Final can be played as a televised curtain raiser in the first weekend of the Bartercard Cup and is also allows a NZ16?s side to be selected to play an Australian side in the curtain raiser to the ANZAC test match.
The NJC18?s will commence in late June with an expanded format including teams selected from all of the Bartercard Cup catchments playing one round and culminating in a National Grand Finals day that will crown both the premiership (Bartercard Cup) and National 18s champions.
These changes are part of what will be a transitional year and signals a move toward greater alignment of national elite competitions as part of NZRL?s regional and national high performance strategy.
While aligning elite competitions, the NZRL will also look to better integrate club and provincial competition in a manner that recognises the value of these tiers of football.
A significant development is the advent of a National Club Competition played in a knock out format post regular season.
This is a return to the glory days of Lion Red/Tusk Cup formats of old when club colours were king. The games faithful look back fondly on the last of these national club finals in 1993 when Wainuiomata Lions upset the Northcote Tigers at Carlaw Park.
The provincial competitions will be refined to provide representative recognition and a higher level of football for the district leagues not seen in the Bartercard Cup.
The integration of these programmes will be further evidenced next week when the Regional Alliance competitions and Affiliate representative programmes are confirmed in a comprehensive 2007 NZRL calendar.
These initial refinements are the result of extensive consultation with the NZRL?s key stakeholders and an ongoing commitment has been made to a critical analysis of all programmes in 2007.
Bartercard Cup Competition
Commence Saturday April 14th.
18 Rounds ? Pool Play Top 4 Playoffs 3 Week Final Series Split Round 8, Queens Birthday.
1 Live Game per week, 1 Delayed Game per week.
Final Series Screened on Maori Television
Auckland Lions Tamaki Leopards Counties Manukau Jetz Waitakere Rangers Harbour League Wai Coa Bay Stallions Northern Storm Central Falcons Wellington Orcas Canterbury Bulls
National Junior U18 Competition
Commence Saturday June 23rd .
9 Rounds ? Pool Play Top 4 Playoffs 3 Week Final Series
Final Series Screened on Maori Television
Auckland 1# Auckland 2# Auckland 3# Auckland 4# Auckland 5# Wai Coa Bay Stallions Northern Storm Central Falcons Wellington Orcas Canterbury Bulls
National Junior U16 Competition
Commence Saturday March 10th.
3 Rounds ? Pool Play Top 2 from each Pool enter Playoffs 3 Week Final Series
Final Screened on Maori Television
NZ U16 Selected to travel to Australia for Series against QLD and NSW U16?s.
Auckland Crowns Auckland Lions Waikato Northland
Coastline Bay of Plenty Gisborne Hawkes Bay
Nelson Malborough Taranaki Manawatu Wellington
Canterbury West Coast Otago
Further to the NZRL Board?s programme of review and reform, Acting Chairman Andrew Chalmers has confirmed that a National Convenor of Selectors will be appointed for 2007.
The convenor will be primarily responsible for monitoring compliance with process and policy guidelines set by the Board and will oversee the selection panels for all national sides.
The recommendations for the appointment of a convenor will be made by a sub-committee chaired by Tony Kemp, with two non-Board members to be appointed to complete the committee.
A governance review has also been approved by the NZRL Board. Mr Chalmers confirms that his will be initially in the form of a ?Governance Gap Analysis? with full details to be released shortly.