Heartland Championship

The Heartland Championship, known for sponsorship reasons as the AA Rewards Heartland Championship, is an amateur domestic rugby union competition in New Zealand. It was founded in 2006 as one of two successor competitions to the country's former domestic competition, the National Provincial Championship (NPC). The country's 27 provincial teams were split into two separate competitions. Thirteen of the original teams, plus one merged side created from two other teams, entered the new top-level professional competition, the Air New Zealand Cup. The remaining 12 sides entered the new Heartland Championship, whose teams contest two distinct trophies, both named after legendary players for the country's national team, the All Blacks:

New Zealand also has five teams in Super 14, an elite competition which also involves sides from Australia and South Africa.

The competition

The Heartland Championship is held annually, and starts in August. Rugby teams from 12 provincial unions compete.

Points are earned during the competition based on the following schedule:

  • 4 points for a win
  • 2 points for a draw
  • 0 points for a loss
  • 1 bonus point for scoring 4 or more tries, regardless of the final result
  • 1 bonus point for a loss by 7 points or less

It is conducted in three phases. This was similar to the structure of the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup, but that competition collapsed its first two phases into one effective in 2007.

Round One

At the start of Round One, the 12 teams are split into seeded pools of six teams each, Pool A and Pool B. Seedings are also based on positions in the previous year's competition. During Round One, each team will play the other teams in its pool once. All teams will have either two or three home fixtures, with the three highest seeds in each pool at the start of the season receiving the extra home fixture.

All teams will advance to Round Two. The top three teams in each pool advance to the Meads Cup, while the bottom three teams enter the Lochore Cup.

Round Two

Each team in both the Meads and Lochore Cups will play the three teams that it did not play during Round One. The three teams with the most competition points in Round One will play two home fixtures and one away, while the other three teams will play one home fixture and two away.

All competition points from Round One carry over to Round Two, and the competition points earned in both rounds will determine the teams that advance to the semifinals of each Cup in Round Three. The top four teams in the Meads and Lochore Cup competitions at the end of Round Two advance to the semifinals.

Round Three

The Meads and Lochore Cup winners are both determined in four-team single-elimination tournaments. The semifinal matchups are seeded 1-4 and 2-3, with the higher seed receiving home field advantage. The highest surviving seed hosts each Cup final.

Heartland Championship teams

The Heartland Championship is contested by the following teams:

Province Super Rugby Partner Hometown 2007 Placing (Pools) 2007 Placing (Cup)
Buller Crusaders Westport 2 (Pool B) 5 (Meads Cup)
East Coast Hurricanes Ruatoria 6 (Pool B) 5 (Lochore Cup)
Horowhenua-Kapiti Hurricanes Levin 6 (Pool A) 6 (Lochore Cup)
King Country Chiefs Te Kuiti 3 (Pool A) 6 (Meads Cup)
Mid Canterbury Crusaders Ashburton 1 (Pool A) 2 (Meads Cup)
North Otago Highlanders Oamaru 1 (Pool B) 1 (Meads Cup)
Poverty Bay Hurricanes Gisborne 4 (Pool B) 1 (Lochore Cup)
South Canterbury Crusaders Timaru 5 (Pool B) 2 (Lochore Cup)
Thames Valley Chiefs Paeroa 5 (Pool A) 4 (Lochore Cup)
Wairarapa Bush Hurricanes Masterton 2 (Pool A) 4 (Meads Cup)
Wanganui Hurricanes Wanganui 3 (Pool B) 3 (Meads Cup)
West Coast Crusaders Greymouth 4 (Pool A) 3 (Lochore Cup)

Prior to 2006, East Coast, North Otago, Poverty Bay and Wanganui competed in Division Two of the NPC, alongside Counties-Manukau, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Nelson Bays and Marlborough (all promoted to the Air New Zealand Cup, Nelson Bays and Marlborough merging to form Tasman). The remaining teams competed in Division Three of the NPC.


Year Meads Cup Winner Lochore Cup Winner
2006 Wairarapa Bush Poverty Bay
2007 North Otago Poverty Bay

For past winners of lower divisions of the NPC, see National Provincial Championship.


See also

External links

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