The New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the 2021 National Competition will kick off this weekend, albeit in a revised format.
This year’s National Competition amalgamates both Premiership and Championship divisions into a singular competition consisting of regional pools.
The regional pool format means teams outside of Auckland can begin playing this weekend, while Auckland teams can join when Covid levels allow, without disrupting the flow of the competition.
The 2021 Men’s National Competition consists of three regional pools:
South Island Men
Southland Rams, West Coast Chargers, Otago Whalers and Canterbury Bulls
Waikato Mana, Mid Central Vipers, Upper Central Stallions and Wellington Orcas
Akarana Falcons, Auckland Vulcans and Counties Manukau Stingrays
Monday, October 4, the government is set to make a decision on Auckland’s Alert Level. If Level 3 is extended, the Northland / Auckland pool will not compete in this year’s National Competition.
Saturday 30 October will see 1st Men’s Central take on 1st Men’s South Island and 2nd Men’s Central take on 2nd Men’s South Island. If the Northern pool cannot compete, this will be the Men’s National Competition final and runner up match.
If the Northern pool can compete due to a successful Alert Level change on October 4, the winner of the 1st Central v 1st South Island final will go on to play 1st place in the Northern pool on Sunday, November 7, to which the winner will be crowned National Men’s Champions.
The 2021 Sky Sport Women’s National Competition follows a similar format where both Premiership and Championship divisions have been amalgamated to form a singular competition consisting of two regional pools.
Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays
Mid Central Vipers, Upper Central Stallions, Wellington Orcas, Canterbury Women
The Central pool will kick off next Saturday, October 2, while the Northland pool will kick off Sunday, October 17, subject to Auckland successfully moving down Alert Levels, post-October 4 announcement.
The Sky Sport Women’s National Competition Final will take place before the National Men’s Final on Sunday, November 7.
If the Northern pool cannot compete due to an extended Level 3, the Women’s National Competition Final will see 1st play 2nd of the Central pool. If Northern can partake, the final will see top of the Central pool take on top of the Northern pool, to which the winner will be crowned Women’s National Champions.
NZRL is also exploring the possibility of running the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership in Q1 of 2022 if the Northern pool cannot compete this year.
Motu Tony, GM of Football and High Performance at NZRL, says, “Despite the disruptions the pandemic has brought, for the second year in a row, it’s exciting we can present a 2021 National Competition.”
“Thank you to Sky Sport for their continuous support of our game, as well as all our Zones and Districts who have been understanding of the task at hand. Restructuring the National Competition is no easy feat, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without everyone’s input and co-operation.”
“We look forward to seeing players take the field for their regions after disrupted seasons across the country, and fingers crossed Auckland can join down the line”, he adds.
“We encourage everyone to continue to follow health and safety protocol and thank all of our communities for their ongoing patience and understanding during these times.”
The South Island Men’s pool kicks off this weekend when the West Coast Chargers take on the Southland Rams, Saturday 25th September, 2:30 pm at Wingham Park, Greymouth.
The Central Men’s and Women’s pools kick off next Saturday, October 2, with a doubleheader at Davies Park, Huntly. Waikato Men will take on the Wellington Orcas, following the Upper Central Zone Women v Wellington Women.
NZRL will release the full National Competition draws early next week.
Not all National Competition games will be televised live on Sky Sport; NZRL will provide further information on where and how to watch each game when the complete draws are released early next week.
Northland has decided not to compete in this year’s 2021 National Competition, however, we look forward to seeing them return in 2022.
No crowds are permitted at any Men’s or Women’s National Competition games under Alert Level 2.