20 Sep 2021

Auckland, Counties-Manukau and Northland pull out of Farah Palmer Cup

2:30 pm on 20 September 2021

Auckland, Counties-Manukau and North Harbour have pulled out of the remainder of women's national provincial rugby competition due to their inability to train or play under COVID-19 Alert Levels.

It means the final week of the regular season of the Farah Palmer Cup premiership and championship competitions will be completed with the remaining 10 teams, with the respective finals series to be played on the first two weekends October.

New Zealand Rugby's community rugby manager ommunity Rugby Steve Lancaster says the decision been made in consultation with the three Auckland-based Provincial Unions and the Rugby Players' Association.

"It's tough on the Auckland-based players who desperately wanted to represent their provinces in the final weeks of the competition, but after consulting with all parties it was clear we could not extend the competition any later than we have already.

"We needed to provide certainty to all involved in the competition and ultimately pushing out the finals again, while the Auckland-based teams are unable to train or play was just not feasible at this time," said Lancaster.

Cindy Nelles of Canterbury scores the winning try and team mates celebrate during the Farah Palmer Cup Final vs Waikato, at Rugby Park, Christchurch, New Zealand, 31st October 2020.

Canterbury celebrate their match winning try against Waikato in last year's Farah Palmer Cup final. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2020

Canterbury and Waikato have already qualified for the finals series with Wellington also in the hunt for a semi-finals spot.

If Wellington beat the Bay of Plenty Volcanix in their final match of the regular season in Mount Maunganui this Saturday they will join Canterbury and Waikato in a three team finals series that will see the top qualifier go through to the final and the second and third placed sides play a preliminary final.

However, if Wellington lose to Bay of Plenty they'll be eliminated and Canterbury and Waikato will go straight to the final where they will play each other the following weekend.

The Championship will go straight to the three-team finals format where current leaders the Manawatu Cyclones will be joined by Northland and the Hawke's Bay.

"In consultation with the Provincial Unions, it was confirmed that we would not replace Auckland teams with teams below them on the points table. For the integrity of the competition, it was agreed that only teams who qualified for the play-offs would progress beyond the end of pool play."

"While it's not the finish to the season we'd all hoped for, the positive is that we can look forward to some really meaningful fixtures over the next three weeks," said Lancaster.

Under current COVID-19 Alert Level 2, the Farah Palmer Cup can continue throughout the rest of New Zealand (outside of Auckland region) if Ministry of Health and NZ Rugby COVID-19 guidelines are followed, including restrictions on mass gathering, contact tracing and hygiene protocols.