In 2016, the Women’s Provincial Championship was renamed the Farah Palmer Cup in recognition of one of the most iconic figures in women’s rugby.
With the support of Mitre 10, the Farah Palmer Cup will kick off on 6 August and feature nine teams from across the country. The competition will span seven rounds and include semi-finals on Saturday 24 September and conclude with a final on Saturday 1 October.
Farah Palmer is a global women’s rugby icon, having played 35 Test matches for the Black Ferns and represented Otago, Waikato and Manawatu at provincial level. In 2014, Palmer was inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
She said it was a huge privilege to have the women’s provincial championship named after her: “It’s very humbling to have the competition named in my honour. I had to have a real think about accepting it because rugby is a team sport and there are lots of women and men who have gone before me that really helped women’s rugby develop. But then I thought it is a great honour and I am happy to be acknowledged this way.”
The teams are:
Auckland Storm; Bay of Plenty Volcanix; Counties Manukau Heat; Canterbury; North Harbour; Manawatu Cyclones; Otago Spirit; Waikato and the Wellington Pride.
Auckland, the current champs, begin their quest for a ninth successive title when they take on Wellington in the first round in a replay of the 2015 final on August 6.
Elsewhere, Bay of Plenty hosts North Harbour, Manawatu plays Otago and Waikato takes on Counties Manukau. Canterbury starts the competition with a bye. Several games will be televised by SKY Sport as curtain raisers to Mitre 10 Cup games.
The semifinals will be played on 24 September with the Farah Palmer Cup champions will be determined in the Final on Saturday 1 October.
The inaugural Women's National Provincial Championship was contested in 1999, with 14 teams taking part originally.
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 played under different guises - the Women's National Provincial Championship, the Lion Foundation Cup, the Women's Championship, and the Women's Competition.
There will be a weekly preview and wrap of this year's competition on allblacks.com, while results and news as it becomes available will be posted on facebook.com/NZWomensRugby