About the Women's Provincial Championship
With the New Zealand Women's Sevens team winners of the Women's Rugby World Cup in Moscow and the Black Ferns hot off their International Series win over England and an expanded competition, the Women's Provincial Championship is going to be bigger, brighter and faster than the 2012 edition.
Players from New Zealand's two World Champion women's teams will be in action throughout the competition, swapping their black jerseys for provincial colours and there is sure to be some more exciting talent uncovered as well. With the Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 to look forward to in France come August next year, there is plenty to play for.
The Women's Provincial Championship (WPC) will consist of a round robin, with all teams playing in a single pool. Each team plays the others once, with no bye rounds. The round robin will be followed by a Final.
The Championship kicks off with Otago taking on Wellington at Dunedin's North Ground on 7 September and will be played over seven weeks, with the Final coinciding with the ITM Cup and Pink Batts Heartland Championship Finals weekend in late October.
The inaugural Women's National Provincial Championship was contested in 1999, with 14 teams taking part. In 2000 the number of teams increased to 18. The Championship was contested across divisions - originally a first division and regional divisions, which evolved into two divisions, and continued in this format until 2005. Throughout this time the WPC was variously known as the Women's National Provincial Championship, the Lion Foundation Cup, the Women's Championship, and the Women's Competition.
In 2006 the Women's Championship (as it then was) was reduced to six teams playing in one grade - Auckland, Canterbury, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Otago and Wellington. In 2010, the competition was not held, but returned in 2011 with the same six teams.
In 2011 it was announced that Waikato would be re-joining the competition and this year it is Counties Manukau and Taranaki that are joining the hunt for some silverware.
Auckland claimed their fifth title in a row in 2012, having won every tournament except one (in 2006 they went down to Wellington in the Final) since the official women's provincial competition kicked off in 1999. Canterbury were the beaten Finalists, in what was an exciting match and these two will continue their rivalry in the first round at Western Springs Stadium.
In 2013, the Final will be played and broadcast on SKY Sport as the curtain raiser to the ITM Cup Premiership Final.
Check out the 2013 draw here
Look at last year's results here