Mitre 10 Heartland Championship draw announced

Getty Images     15 Mar 2018     Getty Images

The 12 Heartland Unions will play the eight-week modified round robin, following which, the top four teams will compete for the Meads Cup, while teams ranked 5-8 will compete for the Lochore Cup.

Semifinals for both Cups will be played on 20 October, with the Finals to be played the following weekend.

Fans will be excited for Round One match ups which see defending Meads Cup champions, Wanganui, host South Canterbury who finished top of the table in round robin last season. The teams met in last year’s semifinal with Wanganui winning 29-24.

Another hotly contested Round One match will see 2017 Meads Cup finalists Horowhenua Kapiti hosting Lochore Cup champions, Mid Canterbury.

New Zealand Rugby’s Head of Provincial Union Rugby Steve Lancaster said the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship holds a special place on the rugby calendar.

“Without fail, the Heartland Championship always produces exciting rugby. It’s a competition that always gets great community support and the teams deliver with passionate, hard-fought matches.

“Wanganui have set the standard in recent seasons with three Meads Cup titles on the trot but as we saw last season, there a plenty of teams capable of fighting for the silverware,” said Lancaster.

Match venues and kick off times will be confirmed by Provincial Unions in comings months.