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Best of provincial talent on show in Farah Palmer Cup from this weekend

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allblacks.com     03 Aug 2016     Getty Images

Dr Farah Palmer, the former Blacks Ferns captain and three-time world champion, will be attending the Manawatu v Otago game on the opening Saturday as nine provinces – Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Counties Manukau, Manawatu, North Harbour, Otago, Waikato and Wellington – compete for the trophy that now bears her name.

“The Women’s Provincial game continues to grow and develop and the quality of play and the level of skill on the field continues to be outstanding. It’s fantastic to see not only our young players embracing the domestic competition, but also our young women taking up the whistle. The competition is such a great platform for developing future Black Ferns and international referees.

“It’s a real privilege to still be a part of the women’s game and I’m delighted to be able to attend the opening of the tournament for the two teams that I used to play for, having started my career with Otago and completing it with Manawatu. I’m looking forward to the start of another exciting and successful season,” Palmer said.

The Farah Palmer Cup will also be out and about across the country during the tournament, starting with the appearance at this weekend’s game.



Meanwhile, the Mitre 10 sponsored competition will be officiated by a New Zealand Women’s Referee team and complemented by two Australian referees taking part in an exchange programme with New Zealand Rugby.

The squad will be overseen by National Referee Squad Coach Paul Honiss, who is still New Zealand’s most experienced Test referee and was the world’s most experienced when he retired from the international game in 2008.

“We’ve a good balance of youth and experience,” said Honiss.

“Former Black Fern Rebecca Mahoney is a bright prospect with the potential to be elevated to higher honours on the international stage. Last year was her first year and she ended up refereeing the Final. She is joined by two young, up and coming referees Brittany Andrew and Natarsha Ganley, and the very experienced Chelsea Gurr and Lee Jeffrey.

“The women are very keen to prove they are as good as the men, they’re an enthusiastic group and it’s good to see them moving towards refereeing on the international stage and following in Jess's footsteps,” added Honiss.

The NZ referee squad is sponsored by Valspar and includes 10-Test seasoned whistler Jessica Beard from Counties Manukau, who is unavailable for the opening weeks of the Farah Palmer Cup as she is refereeing Women's Sevens at Rio Olympics.

NZ Referees

Brittany Andrew (Manawatu) 2 FPC matches
Jessica Beard (Counties Manukau) 19 FPC matches and 10 test matches
Natarsha Ganley (North Harbour) 5 FPC matches
Chelsea Gurr (Canterbury) 21 FPC matches
Lee Jeffrey (Waikato) 37 FPC matches
Rebecca Mahoney (Wairarapa-Bush) 5 FPC matches

Australian Referees
Amber Hibbard – Auckland v Manawatu (13 Aug)
Rachel Horton - Counties Manukau v Wellington (9 Sept), and assistant referee for North Harbour v Manawatu (10 Sept).

The 2016 Farah Palmer Cup presented by Mitre 10
The seven-round Farah Palmer Cup kicks off on 6 August with Auckland v Wellington, Bay of Plenty v North Harbour, Manawatu v Otago and Waikato v Counties Manukau. Canterbury starts the competition with a bye.
The semi-finals will be played on 24 September with the Farah Palmer Cup Final taking place on Saturday 1 October.