23 Jul 2009

Back to the future for rugby's national provincial competition

8:37 am on 23 July 2009

The New Zealand rugby union admits its revamped national provincial competition for 2010 is a case of back to the future, reverting to the competition format of four years ago.

The union's unveiled a 10-team Premier Division for next year's NPC with six teams in a Division One competition.

The Premier competition will be made up of the top 10 sides from this year's Air New Zealand Cup with the bottom 4 going to Division One along with 2 teams from the Heartland Championship.

However, CEO Steve Tew says finishing in the top 10 doesn't guarantee a place as unions have to meet off-field criteria as well.

Tew says when they introduced the current 14 team competition a few years back they thought it would work but tiem has shown the problems are off the field rather than on it.

He says they haven't been able to deliver on the financial revenue they expected to raise and some provincial unions haven't managed their books as well as they should have.

The winner of the Division One competition will automatically be promoted to the Premier Division.

The Heartland Championship, or third division, will compromise 10 teams but it's yet to be decided if there'll be promotion to Division One.