By WRFU and Club Rugby
Community rugby takes a further hit in 2019.
The 2019 season starts one week later, finishes one week earlier, and has no mid-week or double-header rounds.
The 23 March start date is because of ground availability, while the concluding weekend of the season on 27 July is to make way for the earlier start to the 2019 National Provincial Championship competitions that start a fortnight earlier than this year.
It was also announced this week that the All Blacks will host South Africa in Wellington on 27 July, so depending on rugby perspectives that day or night will be a big one for the capital’s rugby supporters.
“We then asked clubs if they still supported a mid-week round given that ANZAC Day falls on a Thursday. This wasn’t supported so we ended up with a competition three weeks shorter than 2018,” explained WRFU Chairman Peter Scott at the draw launch this week.
“Further consultation was had with clubs who voted overwhelming in favour of shortening the Swindale Shield rather than making any changes in the Jubilee and Hardham Cup rounds,” offered Scott.
“A success of 2018 that will continue is the bye round during the Jubilee and Hardham Cup competitions. The seven/seven split introduced last year was positive and the bye round remains favoured by an overwhelming majority of clubs.”
With the Provincial Sevens season all over this side of Christmas, Wellington’s 14 clubs will have three months from their Christmas turkey to prepare for the season ahead.
All will want to hit the ground running on Saturday 23 March, which will be a round of seven Premier matches at different venues with the Gala Day no longer taking place.
A revamped Swindale Shield will see just 10 matches played, so each team will not play three of the other teams in the first round.
For the purposes of the draw, the 2019 Swindale Shield will be split into two pools of seven teams, with each team playing six teams from their own pool and four crossover fixtures.
There will be one points table. The top seven at the conclusion of the 10 weeks meet for the coveted Jubilee Cup, the bottom seven vie for the Hardham Cup.
The Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield runs alongside the Swindale Shield.
In opening round matches, the Battle of Kilbirnie sees Marist St Pat’s and Poneke meet for the Horan-Millar Trophy at Evans Bay Park.
Wainuiomata and Hutt Old Boys Marist meet at William Jones Park.
The Upper Hutt Rams are picked by commentators at this website to be top four contenders in 2019, and In another expected blockbusting opening weekend match, they host defending Jubilee Cup champions Old Boys University at their new season home at Maoribank Park.
Defending first round champions Northern United and Johnsonville meet at Jerry Collins Sta
dium, Paremata-Plimmerton host Oriental-Rongotai at Ngati Toa Domain, Avalon host Wellington at Fraser Park and Tawa and Petone collide at Lyndhurst Park in a match-up where sparks often fly, on the field or in town afterwards.
Moving into week two, Norths and OBU meet at the JCS in a re-match of last year’s Jubilee Cup final.
Hutt Old Boys Marist and Petone contest the famous McBain Shield in round six on 27 April, headlining several big interclub trophies such as the Jimmy Grbich Shield encounter in round seven on 4 May between Oriental-Rongotai and Poneke at the Polo Grounds.
The draw for the 2019 Swindale Shield is below. All Swindale Shield matches kick-off at 2.45pm except for seventh round games on 4 May that get underway at 215pm to accommodate a Hurricanes match. The draw is replicated for Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield games that are curtain-raisers to the Premier fixtures.
ROUND ONE – Saturday 23 March
Marist St Pat’s v Poneke; Evans Bay Park
Northern United V Johnsonville; Porirua Park
Paremata-Plimmerton v Oriental-Rongotai; Ngati Toa Domain
Avalon V Wellington; Fraser Park
Tawa V Petone; Lyndhurst Park
Upper Hutt Rams V Old Boys University; Maoribank Park
Wainuiomata V Hutt Old Boys Marist; William Jones Park
ROUND TWO – Saturday 30 March
Northern United V Old Boys University; Porirua Park
Marist St Pat’s V Johnsonville; Evans Bay Park
Avalon V Oriental Rongotai; Fraser Park
Paremata-Plimmerton V Poneke; Ngati Toa Domain
Tawa V Hutt Old Boys Marist; Lyndhurst Park
Upper Hutt Rams V Wellington; Maoribank Park
Wainuiomata V Petone; William Jones Park
ROUND THREE – Saturday 6 April
Wellington V Marist St Pat’s; Hataitai Park
Petone V Northern United; Petone Rec
Johnsonville V Paremata-Plimmerton; Helston Park
Avalon V Wainuiomata; Fraser Park
Oriental Rongotai V Tawa; Polo Grounds
Poneke V Upper Hutt Rams; Kilbirnie Park
Old Boys University V Hutt Old Boys Marist; Nairnville Park
ROUND FOUR – Saturday 13 April
Old Boys University V Avalon; Nairnville Park
Marist St Pat’s V Petone; Evans Bay Park
Wellington V Northern United; Hataitai Park
Paremata-Plimmerton V Wainuiomata; Ngati Toa Domain
Johnsonville V Tawa; Helston Park
Oriental Rongotai V Upper Hutt Rams; Polo Grounds
Poneke V Hutt Old Boys Marist; Kilbirnie Park
ROUND FIVE – Saturday 20 April
Petone V Old Boys University; Petone Rec
Hutt Old Boys Marist V Wellington; Hutt Rec
Wainuiomata V Poneke; William Jones Park
Avalon V Paremata-Plimmerton; Fraser Park
Tawa V Northern United; Lyndhurst Park
Oriental Rongotai V Johnsonville; Polo Grounds
Marist St Pat’s V Upper Hutt Rams; Evans Bay Park
ROUND SIX – Saturday 27 April
Old Boys University V Marist St Pat’s; Nairnville Park
Upper Hutt Rams V Paremata-Plimmerton; Maoribank Park
Tawa V Wainuiomata; Lyndhurst Park
Northern United V Oriental Rongotai; Porirua Park
Poneke V Avalon; Kilbirnie Park
Hutt Old Boys Marist V Petone; Hutt Rec
Wellington V Johnsonville; Hataitai Park
ROUND SEVEN – Saturday 4 May
Wellington V Old Boys University; Hataitai Park
Johnsonville V Petone; Helston Park
Wainuiomata V Upper Hutt Rams; William Jones Park
Northern United V Paremata-Plimmerton; Porirua Park
Oriental Rongotai V Poneke; Polo Grounds
Tawa V Marist St Pat’s; Lyndhurst Park
Hutt Old Boys Marist V Avalon; Hutt Rec
ROUND EIGHT – Saturday 11 May
Petone V Wellington; Petone Rec
Wainuiomata V Oriental Rongotai; William Jones Park
Avalon V Tawa; Fraser Park
Johnsonville V Hutt Old Boys Marist; Helston Park
Poneke V Old Boys University; Kilbirnie Park
Paremata-Plimmerton V Marist St Pat’s; Ngati Toa Domain
Northern United V Upper Hutt Rams; Porirua Park
ROUND NINE – Saturday 18 May
Petone V Avalon; Petone Rec
Hutt Old Boys Marist V Oriental Rongotai; Hutt Rec
Upper Hutt Rams V Johnsonville; Maoribank Park
Marist St Pat’s V Northern United; Evans Bay Park
Old Boys University V Wainuiomata; Nairnville Park
Paremata-Plimmerton V Tawa; Ngati Toa Domain
Poneke V Wellington; Kilbirnie Park
ROUND TEN – Saturday 25 May
Johnsonville V Avalon; Helston Park
Hutt Old Boys Marist V Northern United; Hutt Rec
Wellington V Wainuiomata; Hataitai Park
Upper Hutt Rams V Tawa; Maoribank Park
Oriental Rongotai V Marist St Pat’s; Polo Grounds
Old Boys University V Paremata-Plimmerton; Nairnville Park
Petone V Poneke; Petone Rec
Below – action from the final round of the Swindale Shield last year