After a long-awaited return to rugby due to Covid-19, the 2020 Thames Valley club rugby competition is making changes to support clubs and players through hard times.
A new format gives clubs an even four-home and four-away game split which allows clubs the opportunity to rebuild and gain extra support from the community in unprecedented circumstances.
The Thames Valley Rugby Union Board has also decided to cover all club and secondary school affiliation fees this season.
"With the short and long term effects of Covid-19, the TVRFU would like clubs and secondary schools to concentrate entirely on getting back out on the field and enjoying the 2020 campaign once competitions commence," says Brett Barnham, Thames Valley Rugby Union general manager.
"Further to this, the TVRFU are excited to announce that each senior club and secondary school around the region will receive $2000 to help cover expenses, provide support and ease financial pressures caused by Covid-19."
This announcement follows a $20,000 total payment from the TVRFU which was spread evenly to all clubs throughout the region earlier this year.
The TVRFU Board was able to pay the $20,000 out of capital funds.
"We're very excited to now see club and secondary schools rugby in full swing, and we look forward to seeing all our Thames Valley Rugby supporters on the sidelines throughout the 2020 season."
The Senior A draw this year, unfortunately, does not include Coromandel RFC, taking the number of teams down to eight.
The top qualifier after the eight round-robin matches will win the Silcock Shield, with the top four then going on to play for the McClinchy Cup. The bottom four will contest the Patrons Cup.
The Senior B draw features a strong seven-team competition, including Tairua who were semifinalists in the Senior A competition last year.
The top placed qualifier after round-robin play will win the Elders Cup, with the top four playing for the McDonald Cup in a three-week finals series.
TVRFU wanted to thank in advance all the clubs involved for their outstanding effort and commitment to meet the Government Covid-19 guidelines and New Zealand Rugby's Return to Rugby Requirements by implementing extensive Health and Safety plans throughout their clubs.
Contact tracing and strict hygiene guidelines will continue throughout the competition with the union's goal to have clubs back in full swing and achieving revenue sustainability, it says.
Grand finals day is Saturday, August 22, at the Thames Rugby and Sports Club grounds, Rhodes Park, Thames.