Representatives from the 14 Mitre 10 Cup Provincial Unions have met to pick their opposition for crossover matches between the Premiership and Championship teams for the 2018 season.
With Waikato and Wellington officially swapping sides of the two-column table, Waikato will play the 2018 season in the Championship and Wellington returns to the Premiership for the first time since 2014, courtesy of a thrilling extra-time win over Bay of Plenty.
New Zealand Rugby's Head of Provincial Union Rugby, Steve Lancaster, said these crossover games are exciting with no guarantee the Premiership team will come away with the win.
“As we've seen in the 2017 season, the quality of rugby was outstanding, with some great match-ups between teams from the Premiership and Championship.
“Wellington is a great example of this, beating eventual Premiership winners Canterbury convincingly in a crossover fixture. Wellington made the games against Premiership opposition count, winning three of their four crossover fixtures, and eventually earning promotion into the Premiership for 2018.
“The crossover matches are an important part of the Mitre 10 Cup format, pitting Championship against Premiership, and seeing traditional geographic rivalries maintained,” he said.
The four rounds of picks took place as follows (home team listed first):
• home games for the Championship teams; • Manawatu v Wellington • Southland v Auckland • Hawke's Bay v Counties Manukau • Waikato v North Harbour • Northland v Taranaki • Otago v Tasman • Bay of Plenty v Canterbury
• home games for the Championship teams; • Southland v Counties Manukau • Hawke's Bay v North Harbour • Manawatu v Tasman • Northland v Auckland • Otago v Canterbury • Bay of Plenty v Taranaki • Waikato v Wellington
• home games for the Premiership teams; • Canterbury v Hawke's Bay • Tasman v Southland • Taranaki v Manawatu • North Harbour v Bay of Plenty • Counties Manukau v Northland • Auckland v Waikato • Wellington v Otago
• home games for the Premiership Teams; • Taranaki v Waikato • Counties Manukau v Bay of Plenty • Auckland v Otago • North Harbour v Northland • Canterbury v Manawatu • Tasman v Hawke's Bay • Wellington v Southland
Following the meeting, New Zealand Rugby will begin work on the Mitre 10 Cup draw for 2018, which will be completed over the coming months.