Battle for club rugby supremacy to kick off

    The Woodlands Premier rugby team celebrates winning the Galbraith Shield last year. Photo: Debbie Fahey Photography

    THERE will be seven premier grade teams in contention for the Galbraith Shield when the Southland club rugby season kicks off on Saturday.

    Rugby Southland had to continually revise the competition formats through the preseason as clubs and teams fully realised their player rosters and their suitable placement in the divisions.

    The top seven clubs are reigning champion Woodlands, Star, Pirates Old Boys, Marist, Eastern Northern Barbarians, Blues and Midlands. After seven weeks the top six teams will move on to a five-week competition before the semi-finals on July 10 and the Galbraith Shield final the following week.

    The seventh team will have dropped down to join the top five division one teams for the Ack Soper Shield competition, they too will play five games before their semi-finals.

    The Division One competition begins with 12 teams on Saturday; after seven weeks of rugby the top five teams will proceed to the Ack Soper Shield competition while the other seven teams will battle for the Gerald Dermody Shield.

    The Division Two competition has 13 teams, split into two pools, and after seven weeks the top six ranked teams will contest the CJ Soper Trophy, while the Life Members Trophy is the prize for the next seven teams.

    In these lower divisions Riverton, Balfour-Lumsden, Mataura and the Ohai Nightcaps-Otautau teams are back in action after sitting out the 2020 season due to the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The President’s grade has 14 teams and has been split into two groups.

    The Women’s competition will once again be played on a Sunday; the five clubs involved this year are Pioneer, Wakatipu, Marist, Albion and defending champion Blues.

    Saturday’s draw (all games 3pm unless stated otherwise):
    Premier Grade:
    Galbraith Shield: Midlands v Blues, Pirates Old Boys v Barbarians, Woodlands v Star, Marist a bye.

    Division One: Mataura v Waikiwi, Albion v Collegiate, Pioneer v Te Anau, Tokanui v Riversdale, Wyndham v Waikaka, Edendale v Mossburn.

    Division Two: Pool A: Riverton v Central Pirates, Ohai Nightcaps Otautau v Balfour, DLS v Waiau Star at Limehills. Pool B: Woodlands B v Star B, 1.30pm, Blues B a bye. Div 2 crossover game: Bluff v Marist B.

    Women’s: Wakatipu v Blues, Albion v Marist, Pioneer a bye. Both games Sunday, 1pm.