Defending champions to play away in first round of premier rugby

The informal merger between Stratford and Eltham will benefit other clubs in Taranaki with the division one and colts grade mirroring that of the premier competition.

With Eltham-Kaponga playing in the division one competition in the last four years, and Clifton not fielding a B side, the three competitions were not in sync.

However, following the merger and the fact Clifton would field a B side, the premier, division one and colts grades will have all three sides from each club at the same venue.

This year’s club rugby season will kick-off on April 2, the week after Easter which traditionally had featured matches on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

The first week of the premier competition will see defending champions New Plymouth Old Boys travel across town to face Spotswood United, Clifton will host Tukapa, Coastal will meet the merged Stratford side while beaten 2015 finalist Inglewood are at home to Southern.

Semifinals will be played on July 9 while finals day will be on July 16.

Taranaki’s national provincial championship pre-season programme will start a week after finals day, although no opposition or venues have been announced.

The premier competition also has a new major sponsor, with CMK Charted Accountants taking over from JD Hickman.

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