Weight-restricted rugby is set to make a comeback this weekend, with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) today confirming the reconfigured draw for the 2021 NZ Barbarians Under 85 National Club Cup.
After weeks of uncertainty due to Covid-19 restrictions, the rejigged draw provides a clear path to the national final for the 14 remaining teams, with the eight teams outside of Auckland vying for a spot in the semi-finals in the coming weeks.
The first game to kick off in the revived competition is set to be a nail-biter, when homeside the Morrinsville Majestic Pūkekos take on the Poneke Wanderers in a quarter final clash on Saturday 2nd October. The winning team will take the first top four spot - and will be one step closer to the taking out the revered NZ Barbarians Under 85 Club Cup title.
NZR’s Head of Participation Development and Under 85 Club Cup Competition Manager, Mike Hester, said it was great to provide some certainty around the remainder of competition.
“We were optimistic the Club Cup would kick-off again this year. There was strong appetite from the remaining teams to get back on the field when it was safe to return, so it's a great outcome for everyone involved.
“There are some sizeable match-ups on the cards, and I’m looking forward to the teams taking the field next weekend and seeing more action-packed rugby that we’ve come to expect from this grade - and ultimately crowning a 2021 national champion.”
A Round 3 battle of North versus South is confirmed for Saturday 9th October, as the Carisbrook Bush Pigs play the Upper Hutt Real Steel Rams at Logan Park in Dunedin.
Meanwhile, Under 85 debutants and Taranaki locals, NZ Forestry Tukapa, will make the journey north to Hamilton to play off for a spot in the quarters against Fraser Tech.
A decision regarding the remaining Auckland teams will be determined following Government announcements around Alert Levels.
Hester indicated all six teams are motivated to re-join the competition and planning has been made to support their safe and timely inclusion.
“The Auckland region’s Under 85 sides are amongst the strongest in the country and support for the competition remains really strong. When reconfiguring the draw, we were mindful of the impact lockdown has had on teams' abilities to train. The revised draw allows time for the teams to safely return to play.”
Note: Since publication the Marist St Pats Red have confirmed their departure from the Competition. 13 teams remain, and the Avalon Wolves will proceed to the quarter finals.