2018 Farah Palmer Cup - 12th team makes for biggest competition ever
MANUKAU CITY, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 29: Rebecca Todd of Canterbury divers over of Taranaki scores the winning try during the Farah Palmer Cup Premiership Final match between Counties Manukau and Canterbury on October 29, 2017 in Manukau City, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The inclusion of Taranaki boosts the 2018 Farah Palmer Cup competition by one to 12 teams this season; split across Premiership and Championship divisions. And it all kicks off on September 1.

An impressive line-up of 12 teams will play 42 matches over eight weeks, in what will be the biggest women’s provincial competition for more than ten years.

2018 Farah Palmer Cup – 12th team makes for biggest competition ever

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) yesterday launched the enlarged competition, after a blockbuster 12 months in the women’s game. That has seen an Rugby World Cup victory, Commonwealth Games Sevens gold medal, a historic contracting agreement and continual growth in player participation numbers.

Head of Women’s Rugby Development Cate Sexton said the 2018 Farah Palmer Cup continues to reinforce the growth in women’s rugby in New Zealand.

“The return of Taranaki sees 12 provincial unions competing in the biggest competition in recent times. The introduction of Black Ferns contracts creates a professional pathway for these players which only adds motivation to what is already an exciting competition.”

Sky Sport to promote 2018 Farah Palmer Cup

“It is fantastic to see SKY recognising the interest in the women’s game. Their commitment to increased broadcasts and a highlights show, it all combines to help grow the game,” said Sexton.

Investment in the Farah Palmer Cup further demonstrates SKY’s determination to grow the women’s game in New Zealand.

Sky Director of Sport Richard Last said their commitment to New Zealand Rugby is as strong as ever. “SKY will have at least one live match per round and fans will now be able to keep up to date with every team across the competition through the new highlights show as well as catching frequent LIVE double headers of 2018 Farah Palmer Cup and Mitre 10 Cup matches,” said Last.

Level of Women’s game increases year-on-year

Canterbury hold the provincial silverware (see below image) after a stellar 2017 season, where they claimed a maiden Farah Palmer Cup title after Auckland had dominated the women’s NPC so so long. They will be joined in the Premiership division by last year’s championship winners Bay of Plenty, along with 2016 champs Counties-Manukau, Waikato, Auckland and Manawatu.

Wellington, Otago, North Harbour, Tasman, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki will make up the championship division. Teams play each opposition in their own division and one cross-over match, throughout the six week round robin.

The opening round of the competition will see last year’s premiership and championship winners, Canterbury and Bay of Plenty, come face-to-face. With Sky intending to post a live match, highlights and a weekly show (similar to the current format of The Breakdown) the weekly coverage will be extensive.

And while the provincial championship is still the highlight of the season, with Black Ferns players will be returning after their Bledisloe Cup double-header series against Australia. Those stars will include Kendra Cocksedge, Eloise Blackwell, Aldora Itunu and Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali.

Each of those women, plus all of the other Farah Palmer Cup squad members across the 12 teams, will all demonstrate how year-on-year the women’s game is growing in skill, competitiveness and in support. The 2018 Farah Palmer Cup will again, prove this is now the norm (rather than a trend).

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Embed from Getty Images

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