Rebranding it the 2021 Bunnings NPC (renamed from the Mitre 10 Cup) will help to revitalize Provincial Rugby this season in New Zealand. That is not due to any new trial laws, or some variation of the format – it is just the most logical reason.
The NPC (National Provincial Union) is the traditional analogy for domestic rugby union played in New Zealand since 1976. Though in a variety of guises since then; from four divisions to the Air New Zealand Cup, which divided 14 professional unions from their fellow third and fourth divisions (amateur status). It reprogrammed the competitions yet somehow, the phrase NPC stood tall.
Revitalized now, the 2021 season should continue the highest standards throughout, and bring a clarity that some sports presenters and newscasters have continually stumbled on the phrase for nearly a generation.
2021 Bunnings NPC to revitalize Provincial Rugby at its very heart
The league will still contest for the Premiership and Championship titles, the inter-divisional draw allows for teams to face rivals from both comps, and continues many traditional rivalries that have been established for [most] over a century. It’s a valid contribution to the 10-week schedule, where all sides face their individual Premiership/Championship contemporaries and several cross-over fixtures, before settling for a semifinal/finals knockout series planned for October.
Short and full of action, not like some of the more elongated seasons in France or England. But what the 2021 Bunnings NPC lacks in longevity, it will make up for in frenetic energy. Especially from the opening round where several title-contender matchups will test the likes of Bay of Planty Steamers v Tasman Mako, and Auckland v Canterbury. Several more matches will impact the Championship directly but, the first weeks can often only be a taster of what is sure to come.
While a brief explanation, it encapsulates what this 2021 Bunnings NPC has in store. More of the traditional, while still holding the competitive edge that sees’s the NPC held in the highest regard in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Week 1 kicks off the action nicely – Friday, August 6
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