An eight-team split-round 10-week McNamara Cup season has been confirmed at Monday night’s Council of Delegates meeting after the withdrawal of Waiuku and Onewhero.
The two clubs informed Counties Manukau Rugby in recent days that they would not be able to enter a team in the Premier division of club rugby in 2022, forcing a change to the schedule.
The eight remaining Premier clubs all agreed to a new competition structure in a sign of real unity, which will see the competition start on Saturday April 23.
The clubs were ranked based on last year’s finish (Karaka, Ardmore Marist, Manurewa, Patumahoe, Bombay, Pukekohe, Papakura, Weymouth) with the odd numbered teams forming one pool and even numbered teams a second pool.
The 2022 schedule sees each team player the other three teams in their pool before a full round of seven games plus semi-finals and final.
The competition will pause for Queen’s Birthday Weekend but will play through the first ever Matariki public holiday to ensure that representative players are available for finals.
If any matches are unable to be played due to COVID, the intention is for them to replayed later in the season.
Council of Delegates chairman Andy Baker was pleased with the attitude and understanding demonstrated by all clubs.
“The eight Premier clubs met before the full CODs meeting and it took less than half an hour to settle on this structure,” Baker explained.
“We considered a two-round competition but agreed that it just couldn’t fit into the window.
“All clubs were comfortable with this outcome, and I thank them for their understanding.
“We also want to make it clear that the path back to Premier rugby is there for both Waiuku and Onewhero. While it is disappointing for two clubs with such proud history not to be competing this year, the clubs have a chance to pause, take a breath and work out the best way to re-build and we wish them all the best with that.”
The Bob Chandler Memorial competition will feature six clubs – defending champions Bombay, Karaka, Patumahoe, Pukekohe, Manurewa and Papakura.
All other grades will begin on April 23 as well.
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