With the Christmas tree packed away and New Year's festivities in the rearview mirror, rugby season is fast approaching.
The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union has announced the 2021 Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Senior Men's club rugby competition will begin on April 10.
To kick things off, last year's Western Bay of Plenty champions Tauranga Sports host Central Bay of Plenty champions Whakarewarewa at the Tauranga Domain, with a 2.45pm kick-off.
Last year, as Covid-19 wrought havoc, the competition was split into sub-unions to reduce travel and ensure adaptability during such uncertain times.
This year the competition returns to a Baywide format but it will be for the last time.
Introduced in 2016, the format comprises a round of 12-team Premier and 12-team Division One grades, followed by a second round of eight-team Premier 1, eight-team Premier 2 and eight-team Division 1.
The format was designed to create meaningful competitive rugby for all teams across the region for the total length of the 20-week season.
Add to this the requirement for Premier clubs in round one and Premier 1 and 2 clubs in round two to field development teams and the format has served the region well for the past six years.
Last year, Bay of Plenty Rugby received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the sub-union competition and will look to return to that format from 2022 onwards.
Bay of Plenty Rugby community rugby manager Pat Rae said: "For the first time in a long time, we saw a small growth in senior player registrations last year.
"The Club Working Group, which is the volunteer organisation that organises senior club rugby in the Bay of Plenty, is currently working hard behind the scenes to formulate some potential competition formats for 2022 and beyond.
"It's looking like those suggested formats will embrace the concepts of a shortened season and more sub-union local derby clashes that significantly contributed to the success of last year's competition.
"These will be circulated shortly to the clubs for feedback with a decision hopefully announced just before this season kicks off. This will mean that all clubs will know what next year looks like for them just as they kick off this year's season."
For more information on grade formats and confirmed teams, go to www.boprugby.co.nz/community-rugby/senior-rugby/
A slight alteration to this year's format will see only Te Teko from the Eastern Bay sub-union compete in the first round of Baywide Division 1.
The other Eastern clubs have chosen to keep to last year's local format for round one and rejoin the Baywide competition for round two only.
As a result of this, all of the Central and Western Bay Division Two clubs from the 2019 standings were invited and a number accepted invitations to join the Baywide Division 1 competition for round one.
Katikati, Eastern Districts, Eastern Pirates and potentially one other will join Te Teko, Judea, Kahukura, Rotoiti, Murupara and Reporoa in round one of Farmlands Baywide Division 1 competition.
The Men's Premier, Premier Development and Division 1 draws for round one are now available online at www.sporty.co.nz/BOPdraws
All results throughout the season will be available on the Sporty website. Just choose from the drop-down menus which competition, team and grades you are wanting to see.
The new Colts competition, which was announced at the end of last year, has started to generate some positive interest in the rugby community.
So far three Western Bay clubs have entered teams; Mount Maunganui Sports, Katikati & Pāpāmoa, with Greerton Marist running some social media promotion around forming a team.
As it gets closer to that competition kicking off in May, more information will be made available.
The 2021 Toi Ohomai Premier Women's competition is scheduled to kick off on March 28 and the draw for round one is expected to be published on February 20.