The Highlanders First XV competition will introduce pool
play next year and two more teams have been added to the
An exhaustive review of the four-year-old competition had
been conducted, and committee chairman Des Smith said there
had been nothing but positive feedback.
But costs and travel had to be looked at, and the committee
wanted to create a competition so that any young school
player in the Highlanders region could play in it.
The competition, which will continue to be sponsored by
Fulton Hogan, cost about $90,000 annually to run and a lot of
that was spent on travel.
Smith said there was a feeling too much time was spent by
players sitting on buses.
It was decided to have a northern and a southern pool, with
seven teams in each.
The new school from Otago, Mt Aspiring College, would be in
the northern pool, which would also include the two Oamaru
schools and the four from Dunedin.
The southern pool would include five schools from Southland -
up from four last season - South Otago High School and
Dunstan High School.
Three teams from Southland were challenging to be the seventh
side in the southern pool. Games would be played early next
year to determine which side out of Central Southland
College, St Peter's College and James Hargest College would
join the competition.
James Hargest competed in last season's competition and
finished bottom. It faced a playoff against Verdon College
Next season, after a round robin within each pool, a top
eight and bottom six format will be played.
The top four teams in each pool will progress to the top
eight and play against the four sides from the other pool.
They will not carry through their points from round robin
games against teams that do not make the top eight.
A top four and bottom four will be found, and semifinals and
finals will be played.
In the bottom six, the sides will drop their points from pool
play and play all the other sides for five more games,
followed by finals.
Each school would have 12 games, which Smith felt was enough
as there were also traditional interschool fixtures and
pre-season matches, and it fitted next year's playing window.
Smith said Mt Aspiring College could call on players from
Wakatipu High School and Cromwell College.
Travel demands should be lessened.
"When the season goes into top eight, bottom six, there may
be a bit more travelling but in that initial pool round,
teams will not be making such big trips," he said.
"It may be a bit of a trip to Wanaka but they are keen to
come on board and we want to get into that Lakes area."
He said Kavanagh College would be able to call on the
resources of co-educational schools in Dunedin, although
there was a quota attached to that.
Other schools in country areas already used pupils from
"That will strengthen teams up. That is what we are trying to
achieve - give players access to the competition without
needing to change schools."
Smith said they looked at going to 16 teams but felt to
maintain quality, 14 teams were adequate.
The inclusion of some second XVs was considered but it did
not receive a lot of support.
Highlanders First XV
• Northern pool: Waitaki Boys', St Kevin's, Otago Boys',
King's, Kavanagh, John McGlashan, Mt Aspiring.
• Southern pool: South Otago, Dunstan, Southland Boys',
Verdon, Gore, Menzies, one to be added.