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Regional derby matches have dominated the picks made by provincial unions today in their selection of opposition for crossover matches in next year's ITM Cup.
The selection process, opened to the media for the first time today, was conducted with chief executives and coaches from each of the 14 ITM Cup teams.
With each team playing every other team in the Premiership or Championship, the competition also features four matches between divisions. The first of those was determined based on seedings after this year's competition, while the three others were selected in rounds today.
New Zealand Rugby Union general manager Neil Sorensen welcomed many of the picks which saw the majority of unions favouring derby battles with neighbouring provinces.
"It's great to think that the preparations for next year's ITM Cup have already started," he said. "I know that they are already thinking about the other teams they'll face, and they will start factoring the picks made today into their campaign planning for next year."
The scheduling of all matches will be confirmed when the draw is finalised by early next year.
Crossover matches for 2013 ITM Cup
Automatic crossover matches:
North Harbour v Canterbury (14 v 1)
Manawatu v Auckland (13 v 2)
Northland v Wellington (12 v 3)
Southland v Taranaki (11 v 4)
Tasman v Waikato (10 v 5)
Otago v Bay of Plenty (9 v 6)
Hawkes Bay v Counties Manukau (8 v 7)
First round of picks (Championship teams picked a Premiership team in reverse seeding order):
North Harbour v Counties Manukau
Manawatu v Taranaki
Northland v Bay of Plenty
Southland v Waikato
Tasman v Canterbury
Otago v Auckland
Hawke's Bay v Wellington
Second round of picks (Premiership teams picked a Championship team in seeding order):
Canterbury v Otago
Auckland v North Harbour
Wellington v Manawatu
Taranaki v Hawke's Bay
Waikato v Northland
Bay of Plenty v Southland
Counties Manukau v Tasman
Third round of picks (Championship teams picked a Premiership team in seeding order for an away match):
Bay of Plenty v Hawkes Bay
Waikato v Otago
Taranaki v Tasman
Counties Manukau v Southland
Auckland v Northland
Canterbury v Manawatu
Wellington v North Harbour