Changes to 2020 representative rugby

Good afternoon everyone,

Please find attached a Media Release regarding representative rugby for 2020.

All 12 Heartland Unions have been in constant communication over the past two weeks to assess the Covid-19 situation as best we can amid all the uncertainty.

We all agreed clearly that the impacts of Covid-19, across our game are unprecedented, and realized all Unions needed to make compromises to see that the future of ‘Rugby Inc’ is a priority.

As a collective we decided that our priorities are:

1)   Our People – looking after our Staff, but also understanding our Sponsors will be struggling, and the desire to relieve pressure from them by not calling on them for support during this already stressful financial time.

2)   Our Clubs – we are all committed to continuing Club development/support throughout, and prioritise Club & School competitions.

3)   Heartland – we all agreed this would be a ‘luxury item’ in this environment.

To that end, we decided that the Heartland competition & all other Representative Rugby should be cancelled in 2020.  As the Heartland competition is the pinnacle of community rugby, this was not an easy decision to make, but given our priorities above, and financial modelling undertaken, we realise it is the most prudent, especially given it will save $2.5 million across Heartland.  This decision was unanimous between CEO’s and Chairs and has been well received by NZR Management.

We stipulated to NZR that this decision was for 2020 only and that the Heartland competition must be reinstated in 2021.  We also requested that should we recover from this pandemic early enough in the year, there be the ability to negotiate new competition terms for 2020 and or run our own inter union competitions, e.g. Pinetree Log, Bruce Steel Cup etc.

The Staff and I will be working hard to ensure we get Club & School Rugby up and going again in some shape or form, when we can and will continue to keep in contact over the next few weeks with any further updates.

In the meantime, keep safe and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

Kindest regards

Bridget Belsham


Media Release – Click Here – 

To help secure the future of the sport, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Provincial Unions have today cancelled all provincial representative rugby tournaments including the 2020 Mitre 10 Heartland Championship.

The cancellations include the Meads Cup and Lochore Cup (Heartland Championship), Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 Tournament, TECT National Sevens Tournament and all Provincial Union representative rugby tournaments below the Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup.

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said rugby had worked together to make these difficult decisions for the best interests of the game.

“We’ve worked together and the Provincial Unions have led the decision making. This is a partnership and I acknowledge them for being willing to have these conversations and make tough decisions.

“It’s surreal how much this has impacted everyone in just seven days and we’ve needed to act swiftly, decisively and together. We are united in what we want to achieve and that’s to secure the future of rugby. These decisions have all been about ensuring when the time comes our communities can be up and running club, community and school rugby as quickly as possible.” Robinson said NZR supported the decision led by the Heartland unions to cancel the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship for the 2020 season.

“It’s a blow for the Heartland Unions to lose their much-loved championships. Their top-level teams are the pride of their communities and it was a courageous decision by them in difficult times. The cancellation in 2020 will be a loss for local players and fans. It will no doubt be felt keenly by many.”

Ngati Porou East Coast CEO Cushla Tangaere-Manuel said the decisions were based on the greater good for rugby.

“While we are very disappointed that these tournaments won’t happen this year, but we want rugby to keep thriving long after lockdown is lifted and our communities are safe to play our game. Our three priorities in Heartland regions are our people, our clubs, then representative rugby, including the Heartland Championship. We understand these are the aspirational teams in our Unions but we’re confident making these decisions now will safeguard our game.”

Robinson said all the cancellations announced today affect the 2020 season only, and no decisions beyond this year had been made. He added no decisions about the Mitre 10 Cup or Farah Palmer Cup have been made at this stage either.