The Bay of Plenty Volcanix team is one of nine competing for the Women's Provincial Championship title when the competition kicks off on Saturday, August 22.

The 2015 season marks a change in format for the championship which is entering its 16th season. Unlike the full round robin format of previous seasons, this year each team will play six matches, three home and three away over a seven week period, with one bye week.

The leading four teams will take part in a semifinals stage for the first time since 2009 on Saturday, October 10. The top ranked team after six games will take on the fourth ranked team and the second ranked team will play at home against the third ranked team.

Six matches will be played as curtain raisers to ITM Cup matches and will be broadcast live on SKY. This includes the final which is to be played on Saturday, October 17 before an ITM Cup semifinal.


The Volcanix will have two games televised live, against Manawatu in Palmerston North on August 22 and Waikato at the Tauranga Domain on August 30.

New Zealand Rugby's head of women's rugby development Cate Sexton says the provincial championship was a fantastic showcase for the women's game.

"We really appreciate the support of provincial unions which are building competitions at the community level. It's important we provide a provincial competition for the best players can gain valuable experience.

"Rising numbers of women are playing rugby these days and this competition provides a great platform for those who want to take their game to the next level.

"We need our Black Ferns and New Zealand Women's Sevens players to be on top of their game and this competition is a valuable opportunity for us to build depth and for players to catch the eyes of selectors."

The same nine teams that competed in 2014 will again line up in 2015 - Auckland Storm, Bay of Plenty Volcanix, Counties Manukau Heat, Canterbury, Hawke's Bay Tuis, Manawatu Cyclones, Otago Heart, Waikato and Wellington Pride.

Current champions Auckland Storm begin their quest for an eighth successive title and are also holders of the JJ Stewart Trophy, the women's equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield. In Week Two Canterbury will get a first crack at regaining the trophy which they lost to the Storm in the final match last year.

BOP Volcanix draw:
Aug 22: v Manawatu, Palmerston North *.
Aug 30: v Waikato, Tauranga Domain *.
Sept 5: v Hawke's Bay, Whakatane.
Sept 12: Bye.
Sept 19: v Otago, Dunedin.
Sept 26: v Auckland, Auckland.
Oct 3: v Wellington, Tauranga Domain.
* Televised curtain raiser to ITM Cup fixture