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Heartland Championship: Wairarapa-Bush v Poverty Bay


Sat 10 Sep 2011, 1:00pm

Where: Carterton Rugby Football Club, Belvedere Road, Carterton, Wairarapa

Restrictions: All Ages

The Heartland Championship, New Zealand's amateur domestic rugby competition, is a grassroots rugby tournament featuring 12 provincial teams throughout New Zealand.

New Zealanders support their local rugby teams with an intense parochial pride. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Heartland Championship. No matter which side you're backing or who's winning, you can't help but be swept up by the adrenalin and passion that fills the atmosphere, fuelled by players and supporters alike.

A modified round-robin draw just for 2011 sees each of the teams playing a total of eight matches — four home and four away. The top four teams at the end of these round-robin matches play for the Meads Cup, while the teams ranked five to eight play for the Lochore Cup.

The Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Football Union is made up of 12 clubs and was formed in 1971 with the amalgamation of the Wairarapa Rugby Football Union and Bush Rugby Football Union. Based in the lower North Island town of Masterton, Wairarapa-Bush was the inaugural winner of the Meads Cup in 2006 and All Black number eight and lock Brian Lochore played representative rugby for the side. Wairarapa-Bush is one of nine unions making up the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise.

The town of Gisborne, on the east coast of the North Island, is home to the Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union. Established in 1890, Poverty Bay is made up of eight clubs and lifted the first Lochore Cup in 2006, winning it again in 2007 and 2008. Poverty Bay is one of nine unions making up the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise.

Week 6 of the competition sees Wairarapa-Bush hosting Poverty Bay. The following day, South Africa v Wales is played in the capital city of Wellington, a few hours' drive away.

The Meads and Lochore Cups:

The Meads Cup is named after the legendary Sir Colin Meads. Nicknamed "Pinetree", Meads played 55 Test matches and a total of 133 matches (predominantly at lock) for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971. He played a total of 361 first class matches during his career and is widely considered one of the greatest players in history.

In 1999 Meads was named New Zealand Player of the Century. He was the manager of the All Blacks in 1995 and was awarded Life Membership of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2007.

The Lochore Cup is named after Sir Brian Lochore who has been an extremely influential All Blacks player, captain, coach and selector. Lochore played 43 matches for the All Blacks, including 25 Test matches, from 1963 to 1971. He captained the All Blacks 28 times, 18 of those being Test matches. Lochore became an All Blacks selector in 1983 and coached the All Blacks from 1985 to 1987. His tenure as coach included the All Blacks' only Rugby World Cup triumph in 1987. Sir Brian was knighted in 1999.

In 2006, the Meads Cup and Lochore Cup started a new life as champions' trophies for the Heartland Championship. Previously, both cups were challenge trophies, like the Ranfurly Shield, contested respectively in Divisions Two and Three of the National Provincial Championship.

For the Heartland Championship the Meads and Lochore Cups were reconditioned by jewellers Walker & Hall. The two cups are identical but rest on different bases: the Meads Cup has a silver base while the Lochore Cup sits on a wooden base.