ITM Cup - History

History

The 2006 reorganisation of New Zealand provincial rugby replaced the NPC's former three-division setup with two distinct competitions. This differs from the original two-division setup used in the NPC from its creation in 1976 to 1984 in two key ways:

  • First, the two current competitions are nationwide, while the original NPC Division Two was split on a North Island/South Island basis.
  • Second, the NZRU ruled that there would initially be no promotion or relegation between the Air New Zealand Cup and Heartland Championship—a feature that had always been present in the former NPC.

Also, the number of teams was reduced to 26, as the Marlborough and Nelson Bays unions merged to form the new Tasman union.

The 2006 expansion of the Super 12 and Tri Nations Series had a major effect on the Air New Zealand Cup. This expansion created the Super 14, adding two extra fixtures to that competition, and also added two more Tri-Nations matches for the All Blacks, at least in non-World Cup years. Because of these changes, it was intended for players in the All Blacks selection pool to make only limited appearances in the Air New Zealand Cup.

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