Next year's provincial competition will no longer have games
played on Tuesdays and will start a week earlier.
After a meeting of provincial union officials yesterday, the
New Zealand Rugby Union released a statement about next
year's ITM Cup.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said the competition would
start on the weekend of August 17 and run for nine weeks, to
be followed by semifinals and finals.
It would remain in two divisions.
Tew said there had been overwhelming support to start the
competition a week earlier to help address concerns about
Matches would no longer be scheduled for Tuesday nights, and
teams would now only have one short turnaround in a season,
rather than two, he said.
Otago played both its midweek games this year on a Tuesday,
Earlier this week, Otago Rugby Football Union general manager
Richard Kinley had said the union did not have a firm
preference on playing midweek games.
Tew said the unions wanted to have a clear window for the
competition without affecting club rugby and Super 15.
The Super 15 final is scheduled for August 4, with club rugby
likely to be finish around the same time.
The ITM Cup will finish in late October with the draw for
next year's competition expected to be released in February.