First XV rugby returns to Sky for seventh season

By Campbell Burnes

Rotorua Boys High 1st XV player Viliami Tosi. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua Boys High 1st XV player Viliami Tosi. Photo / Ben Fraser

First XV rugby returns to television screens this weekend.

A total of 49 games will be televised on SKY's Rugby Channel, with coverage entering its seventh season.

MAGS versus Kaitaia kicks off proceedings with the curtainraiser to this Saturday's Blues-Sharks clash at Eden Park. One of the five curtainraisers will be the April 30 Auckland 1A/1B promotion/relegation fixture featuring Otahuhu and Liston before the Blues-Rebels, while the North Harbour final is always down for a Thursday evening in August.

That promo/relegation clash will give a good insight into the intense nature of these games, which have plenty on them.

No less than 12 doubleheaders are listed, with North Harbour 1A games usually kicking off not long after midday so as not to clash with the more high profile Auckland 1A matches.

There is a healthy smattering of traditionals, several of which are held on Wednesdays, such as the famous Polson Banner match - Napier BHS v Palmerston North BHS - on August 3, Otago BHS v Southland BHS on May 25, and the St Pat's battle, Town v Stream, on July 27.

Mark down the 204th running of King's v Auckland Grammar on June 18, sure to produce another electric atmosphere and big crowd.

There is a potential Moascar Cup clash on May 28 in the UC Championship (the old Press Cup), where St Andrew's host Marlborough Boys' College.

North Harbour's Birkenhead has never previously featured on TV, and on June 11 they will host Whangarei BHS, who are joining the North Harbour 1A for the first time in 2016.

The national and co-ed Top 4 tournament, slated for the first weekend in September, will not be at Rotorua BHS this year. Instead, this popular event on the schools rugby calendar has shifted to Palmerston North's Sport and Rugby Institute, where IRANZ holds its sessions.

The final day of coverage will be the October 8 schools internationals, featuring the Trans-Tasman Shield clash between New Zealand and Australia in Auckland, preceded by the NZ Barbarians Schools against Fiji Schools.

The breakdown of TV matches for each major competition is as follows (not including playoffs):
Auckland 1A 8
UC Championship (Canterbury) 6
Super 8 5
North Harbour 1A 3
WelTec (Wellington) 2
Central North Island 2
Counties/Waikato 1
SWRE Otago 1

Read the full list here:

- NZ Herald

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