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Premier club rugby gets under way this weekend, and the competition has taken on a new structure from the pre-Covid days.
Last year the season was more or less slashed in half thanks to the pandemic.
The truncated season proved popular, though — so popular that the clubs were not keen to go back to a full double-round.
However, it was felt one full round was not long enough, so a compromise has been reached.
It takes a little explaining, so find a comfortable chair and grab a cuppa.
The Speight’s Jug and the Gallaway Trophy will now be run as separate competitions. Points accumulated in the Speight’s Jug will not be carried through to the Gallaway Trophy.
The Speight’s Jug gets under way this week and will run for five weeks, with the final to be played later.
The nine premier teams will be split into two pools.
Taieri, Harbour, Kaikorai, Alhambra-Union and Zingari-Richmond will play cross-pool games with University, Southern, Dunedin and Green Island.
The top team from each pool will qualify for the final of the Speight’s Jug.
When the two finalists meet during the Gallaway Trophy, it will double as the Speight’s Jug final.
The rest of the season takes on a more familiar feel. Each team will play each other once during the Gallaway Trophy.
The top six teams then move on to the playoffs. The format for the playoffs is the same as last season; so 1 v 6, 2 v 5 and 3 v 4.
The three winners will move on to the semifinals, as will the top-placed loser.
Last season Taieri was the highest-ranked side, but lost its top six playoff match to Southern.
But the Eels made good use of their second chance. They beat Harbour 25-8 in the semifinal and then beat University 40-26 in the final to win the senior banner.