The 2016 Bay of Plenty schools rugby season kicks off this Saturday with a full round of games across the union.
This season marks the introduction of a development grade for the under 14 and under 15 boys, allowing the opportunity for secondary schools to develop their less experienced players in preparation for the official start of the competition on June 11.
Over the next five weeks teams will be competing in a grading round competition, as they bid to earn the right to play in the premier grade for their respective age groups. First XV teams battle for the Te Kani Shield and Dick Littlejohn Trophy in division one, which will be up for contention this weekend. A promotion-relegation system has been introduced with teams in the Second, Third and First XV divisions vying for their division title as they seek to advance up the grades.
There will be over 70 teams spread across the Bay.
The premier First XV division will kick off this weekend with Otumoetai College taking on Te Whare Kura o Mauoa at home while defending champions Western Heights High School will host Whakatane High School. Aquinas College will have their hands full when they travel to play Rotorua Boys' High School Second XV and Opotiki defend the Te Kani Shield on the road against Bethlehem College.
*An eight-team Baywide women's premier club competition kicks off this Sunday.