New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced the draw for the 2022 Under 85 National Club Cup, which is growing in popularity every year.
U85 Club Cup Competition Manager, Mike Hester said the weight-restricted, knock-out competition had seen great growth in size and popularity since its launch in 2020, with 47 teams from around Aotearoa geared to compete this year – up from 19 teams in its inaugural year.
“Even with the disruption of Covid-19, we’ve seen huge growth in the past three years, cementing how important this competition is for the community game,” he said.
In the early rounds, teams will compete in a bracketed draw through Northern, Central and Southern pools to ensure a fair and even competition, and to minimise disruption to the regular club season.
Hester said it was great to witness the start of a strong comeback for weight-restricted rugby throughout New Zealand and provide a pathway for players to stay in the game for longer.
“There’s real appetite from Provincial Unions to grow weight-restricted rugby in their regions and provide more ways for people to play. This is one initiative to help support that growth.
“The grade can also play an important part in helping teenagers move from school to club rugby. The more opportunities we give our players to play and develop their skills, the stronger our rugby system will be.”
"It’s a real privilege to be able to put this grade and its participants in the limelight, and to provide an opportunity for these players to play on a national stage.”
While the schedule has yet to be finalised, fans can anticipate the first of the cross-regional match-ups kick off in early June.
Teams with bye to round two: Mayfield East Coast Bays 85s; Northshore RFC Hairy Goats; Eden Lizards; Grammar Tech Taniwha; Grammar Tech Old Boys; Ponsonby Pikeys; Melville 85s; Takapuna Bombers.
Bye to round two: Eastbourne Gulls; Upper Hutt Rams; Johnsonville Megabyte Terrahawks; Avalon Wolves; Poneke Wanderers; Marist St Pats Reds; Wellington FC Black Dog U85 Axemen.