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Current season or competition:
2015 ITM Cup
ITM Cup Logo introduced for 2010
Sport Rugby union
Instituted 2006 (2006) (as Air New Zealand Cup)
Inaugural season 2006
Chair Gordon Buswell
Number of teams 14
Country New Zealand
Holders Canterbury (2015)
Most titles Canterbury (7 titles)
Broadcast partner
Related competition

The ITM Cup (colloquially referred to as "National Provincial Championship" or "NPC") is the highest level of New Zealand domestic professional rugby union competition, contested annually from late August to early November and managed by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU). Building off competitions dating back to the National Provincial Championship in 1976, with teams from a number of provinces, the ITM Cup officially started with the 2006 season with 14 teams after the National Provincial Championship (NPC) was split into this professional competition and the amateur Heartland Championship competition. The competition was known as the Air New Zealand Cup to the end of the 2009 season; the name changed to the ITM Cup for the 2010 season after ITM, the trading name of Independent Timber Merchants Co-operative Ltd., a New Zealand building supplies retailer took over as lead sponsor.[1]


  • Format and sponsorship 1
    • Format 1.1
    • Naming rights 1.2
  • History 2
    • Pre Air New Zealand Cup: National Provincial Championship 2.1
      • National Provincial Championship 2.1.1
    • Air New Zealand Cup 2.2
    • ITM Cup 2.3
  • Current teams 3
  • Champions 4
    • Total wins 4.1
    • Division Winners 4.2
  • Trophies 5
    • Ranfurly Shield 5.1
    • Inter union trophies 5.2
  • Club competitions 6
  • Squad lists 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes and references 9
  • External links 10

Format and sponsorship


Air New Zealand Cup logo used from 2006 through 2009.

The ITM Cup competition has changed a number of times. There have been up to three Divisions, with promotion/relegation between Divisions. Since 2006 there have been semi-finals and a final in each Division. Winners receive four competition points; if the game was a draw two points are awarded to each team. The Rugby union bonus points system is also used, where any team scoring four or more tries or losing by less than seven points receives an extra competition point. The top four teams at the end of the round-robin phase then played semifinals – the first placed team hosting the fourth team, and the second team hosting the third team. The two winners played the final at the home ground of the top surviving seed.

In 2013, the ITM Cup has two Divisions, the Premiership and the Championship, each with seven teams. All teams play all other teams in their own Division and four teams from the other Division. This keeps up some of the traditional provincial rivalries.

Naming rights

ITM has naming rights starting with the 2010 season, and the competition is the ITM Cup. During the Air New Zealand Cup era, airline and flag carrier of New Zealand Air New Zealand had naming rights and the competition was referred to as the Air New Zealand Cup.


National Provincial Championship
1976 – 2005
Season Champions
1976 Bay of Plenty
1977 Canterbury
1978 Wellington
1979 Counties Manukau
1980 Manawatu
1981 Wellington
1982 Auckland
1983 Canterbury
1984 Auckland
1985 Auckland
1986 Wellington
1987 Auckland
1988 Auckland
1989 Auckland
1990 Auckland
1991 Otago
1992 Waikato
1993 Auckland
1994 Auckland
1995 Auckland
1996 Auckland
1997 Canterbury
1998 Otago
1999 Auckland
2000 Wellington
2001 Canterbury
2002 Auckland
2003 Auckland
2004 Canterbury
2005 Auckland

The 2006 reorganisation of New Zealand provincial rugby replaced the NPC's former three-division setup with two competitions. This differs from the original two-division setup used in the NPC from its creation in 1976 to 1984 in two key ways. The two current competitions are nationwide, while the original NPC Division two was split on a North Island/South Island basis; and 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. 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 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.

Pre Air New Zealand Cup: National Provincial Championship

Before 2006, a number of competitions involving regional and provincial rugby union teams had taken shape in New Zealand. The earliest of these was the National Provincial Championship, which was launched in 1976 and continued until 2006.

National Provincial Championship

The competition was launched as the National Provincial Championship in 1976. The competition, was the major domestic rugby competition in New Zealand. The National Provincial Championship saw many alterations to its format and brand. It was first contested in 1976, and although the basic format of Division One was much the same from then until the 2006 reorganisation, there were a number of changes to the lower divisions. The only change before 2006 was in 1998, when the number of teams in each division was changed to ten in Division One, nine in Division Two, and eight in Division Three. Having an even number of teams in Division One removed the necessity for byes. Starting that year, automatic promotion/relegation between the top two divisions was ended. In its place, the winner of Division Two played a promotion-relegation match against the bottom club in Division One to determine whether the clubs would switch places. Through 2002, this match was hosted by the bottom team in Division One, but the site was changed in 2003 to the home field of the Division Two champion. Auckland were the most successful team in the championship, having won 15 of the 30 series.

Air New Zealand Cup

The inaugural 2006 season was played by 14 teams over 13 weeks from 28 July until the grand final on the 21 October. The inaugural format saw the season split into two rounds. In round one teams split into two pools and played everybody in their pool as well as a bye week. In round two the top three teams from each pool went into the top six, which faced every team they did not play in round one Every other team was split into either Repechage A and Repechage B, and the winners of each repechage filled the two remaining spots for the quarterfinals with the top six. The quarterfinals were followed by semifinals and a grand final. The new competition saw the introduction of four teams elevated from Division two of the 2005 NPC; Counties Manukau, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu and Tasman (the amalgamation of the Nelson Bays and Marlborough unions). The competition was won by Waikato 37–31, after they beat Wellington in the Grand final in front of a capacity crowd of 25,000 fans at Waikato Stadium. The leading try-scorer was emerging star Richard Kahui from Waikato with eight tries, and the leading point-scorer was Jimmy Gopperth from Wellington with 121 points.

The 2007 season saw the NZRU dumping the pool system. The new format opened with a 10-week round-robin where each team missed out on playing three of the other teams. The finals format was not changed from 2006, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and a grand final. The champion was Auckland, defeating Wellington in Wellington's second successive grand final. Auckland finished the season at the top of the points table with a record 48 competition points, winning all ten matches. Jimmy Gopperth again finished as leading points scorer with a record 155, while Brent Ward from Auckland was the top try scorer with eight tries.

The 2008 champion was Canterbury, handing Wellington its third consecutive grand final defeat in a low-scoring 7-6 game. Blair Stewart from Southland was the leading points-scorer, with 105 points, while Wellington's Hosea Gear was top try scorer with a record 14 tries. In August, the New Zealand Rugby Union announced that the Tasman and Northland teams would be relegated to lower competition after the completion of the season for failure to meet criteria which included financial stability, population, training, development, playing history, and administration. This decision was reversed in September, with Tasman and Northland remaining in the competition for two more years [2]

2009 saw more changes in the format. The season, which ran from 30 July to 25 October, was changed to a straight round-robin tournament where every team faced the others once over 13 weeks. Quarter-finals were dropped, with the top four regular season teams advancing directly to the semi-finals and the winners from each semi moving to the grand final. Regular season points were earned as per the Rugby Union Bonus Points System; 4 points for a win, 2 points for a draw and 1 point for scoring 4 tries or for losing by 7 points or less. Semi-finals were played between four teams, the teams are seeded first to fourth and the two highest seeded teams play at home against the two lowest seeded teams meaning first plays fourth and second plays third. The highest seed still remaining in the grand final played at home.


The 2010 ITM Cup was the 34th provincial rugby union competition, the fifth since the competition reconstruction in 2006 and the first under the new sponsor of ITM, involving the top 14 provincial unions. It ran for 15 weeks, with 13 used for a round robin and 2 for the finals, from 29 July to 5 November.

Changes in 2011 see the 14 teams split into two divisions, with the top seven playing in the Premiership, the rest in the Championship. The two divisions play each other, though their ten-game round-robin season sees each team playing only four games per year against teams in the 'other' division. Other key principles introduced was that the competitions must include Super Rugby players, have a stand-alone window, feature a full round-robin and playoffs, have promotion/relegation, guarantee four and five home games per team, be completed within a 10–12 week window and conclude by the end of October.

Current teams

Note: In the table below, previews all the following unions details. The ITM Cup consists of fourteen provincial unions. Each team is under the governance of a union, they are the unions top male representative team that the union has to offer. The teams have not changed since the 2006 launch of the competition.

Colour/s Club Established Nickname/s Stadium/s Capacity
Auckland 1883 Seagulls Eden Park 50,000[a 1]
Bay of Plenty 1911 Steamers Baypark Stadium, Rotorua International Stadium 19,800, 26,000[a 2]
Canterbury 1879 Lambs AMI Stadium 18,000[a 3]
Counties Manukau 1955 Steelers ECOLight Stadium 12,000[a 4]
Hawke's Bay 1884 Magpies McLean Park 22,500[a 5]
Manawatu 1886 Turbos FMG Stadium 15,000[a 6]
North Harbour 1985 Hibiscus QBE Stadium 25,000[a 7]
Northland 1920 Taniwhas Toll Stadium 18,500[a 8]
Otago 1881 Razorbacks Forsyth Barr Stadium 30,700[a 9]
Southland 1887 Stags Rugby Park Stadium 18,100[a 10]
Taranaki 1885 Bulls Yarrow Stadium 25,500[a 11]
Tasman 2006 Makos Lansdowne Park, Trafalgar Park 15,000, 18,000[a 12]
Waikato 1921 Mooloos Waikato Stadium 25,800[a 13]
Wellington 1879 Lions Westpac Stadium 34,500[a 14]
  1. ^ Auckland's official site.[3]
  2. ^ Bay of Plenty's official site.[4]
  3. ^ Canterbury's official site.[5]
  4. ^ Counties Manukau's official site.[6]
  5. ^ Hawke's Bay's official site.[7]
  6. ^ Manawatu's official site.[8]
  7. ^ North Harbour's official site.[9]
  8. ^ Northland's official site.[10]
  9. ^ Otago's official site.[11]
  10. ^ Southland's official site.[12]
  11. ^ Taranaki's official site.[13]
  12. ^ Tasman's official site.[14]
  13. ^ Waikato's official site.[15]
  14. ^ Wellington's official site.[16]


Year Attendance Final Losing semi-finalists
Winner Score Runner-up 1st losing semi-finalist 2nd losing semi-finalist
37 – 31


23 – 14


Hawke's Bay
7 – 6


Hawke's Bay
28 – 20

Hawke's Bay

33 – 13


12 – 3
31 – 18


29 – 13

Counties Manukau

36 – 32



25 – 23



Total wins

Team Championships Runners-up Semi-finalists
Canterbury 7 0 2
Waikato 1 2 0
Auckland 1 2 4
Taranaki 1 0 2
Wellington 0 5 2
Tasman 0 1 1
Hawke's Bay 0 0 3
Southland 0 0 2
Otago 0 0 1
Counties Manukau 0 0 1

Division Winners

Since 2011 teams have played in two separate divisions, with teams playing each team in their own conference twice (home and away) and in the other conference playing four or five teams. The winner of the Premiership division is awarded the ITM Cup, and the Championship division winner wins promotion to the Premiership division and wins their division trophy.

Year Premiership Championship
2011 Canterbury Hawke's Bay
2012 Canterbury Counties Manukau
2013 Canterbury Tasman
2014 Taranaki Manawatu
2015 Canterbury Hawke's Bay


The Air New Zealand Cup was unveiled by sterling silver by master silversmith Thorkild Hansen. The inside of the cup is gilded with gold. Waihi stone carver Jeff Beckwith handcrafted the polished stone base from black basalt quarried from the Bombay Hills.[17]

Ranfurly Shield

The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is perhaps the most prestigious trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby union competition. First presented to Auckland in 1902, the Shield is based on a challenge system, rather than a league or knockout competition as with most football trophies. The holding union must defend the Shield in challenge matches, and a successful challenger becomes the new holder of the Shield. The Shield holder at the end of each season is required to accept at least seven challenges for the following year. All home games during league play, but not during knockout playoffs, in the ITM Cup or Heartland Championship are automatic challenges. The remaining Shield defences must be made up of challenges from unions in the other domestic competition. For example, since North Harbour, an Air New Zealand Cup team, held the Shield at the end of the 2006 Cup season despite losing their home quarter-final to Otago, they were forced to defend the Shield against Heartland Championship teams during the 2007 pre-season. Having successfully done so, all their home fixtures in the round-robin phase were Shield defences until they lost the shield to Waikato. The Shield is currently held by Waikato, who won it from Hawkes Bay in the 2015 ITM Cup.

Inter union trophies

Club competitions

Each respective province competing in the ITM Cup has a number of their own club leagues, which feed into ITM Cup teams. In New Zealand, the ITM Cup is the most prominent domestic competition below the Super Rugby, in which all the respective Unions are also aligned with Super Rugby sides.

Squad lists

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "ITM Cup the new prize of national provincial rugby" (Press release). New Zealand Rugby Union. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  2. ^ "Northland and Tasman saved from axe".  
  3. ^ "Auckland Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Bay of Plenty Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "Canterbury Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "Counties Manukau Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Hawke's Bay Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Manawatu Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "North Harbour Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Northland Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "Otago Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Southland Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Taranaki Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "Tasman Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  15. ^ "Waikato Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  16. ^ "Wellington Official Site". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  17. ^ "Stunning New Air New Zealand Cup Unveiled". 14 July 2006. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 

External links

  • Official website of the ITM Cup
  • Air New Zealand Cup News from Prime Rugby
  • ANZ Rugby News
  • NPC Rugby News
  • Summary of the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup format at (PDF)
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