The Farah Palmer Cup is the home of New Zealand’s top female rugby talent. With the support of Mitre 10, the competition has increased to 13 teams playing across a premiership and championship division. Due to the growth in the Women’s Competition on an annual basis, the Farah Palmer Cup format is determined by NZR in consultation with Provincial Unions prior to the start of each season.
Canterbury won their second Premiership title in 2018 leading the pack of Counties Manukau, Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu and Bay Of Plenty.
The championship was contested by North Harbour, Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Tasman and Wellington. The Wellington Pride won the Championship crown and gained promotion to the 2019 Premiership division.
Northland are set to play in the Farah Palmer Cup in 2019 as they join the Championship divison.
The inaugural Women's National Provincial Championship was contested in 1999, with 14 teams taking part originally.
Auckland has been the dominant force in the competition, winning 15 titles. Their dominance has faded in recent years with Counties Manukau claiming victory in 2016 and Canterbury in 2017 and 2018.
The teams in the Premiership division for 2019 are:
Bay of Plenty
The teams in the Championship division for 2019 are:
All Premiership teams will play each other once, and all Championship teams will play each other once. In addition, each team will play one crossover game during the round robin allocated at the beginning of the season based on rankings – a 6 week modified round robin, 1st September until 6th October.
All matches will carry full competition points
o 4 points for a win;
o 2 points for a draw;
o 1 point for losing a match by seven or fewer points;
o 1 point for scoring four or more tries in a match.
At the conclusion of Round Robin, the top 4 ranked teams in each Division will play in the semi finals 1v4, 2v3 and in the Premiership 5v6 for relegation purposes – weekend of 13th October. The winner of each semi final will progress to the Final within their division, and the Finals will either be held as a double header to a Mitre 10 Cup Semifinal, or as a standalone fixture at the home venue of the highest qualifiers.
JJ Stewart Trophy
The JJ Stewart Trophy is the Farah Palmer Cup’s equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield, named after staunch women's rugby advocate (and All Blacks Coach) John Stewart. While Auckland held a firm grasp of the trophy for almost 17 years, in recent years it has been held by Otago, Canterbury and Counties Manukau.
Dr Farah Palmer
Farah Palmer is a global women’s rugby icon, having played 35 Test matches for the Black Ferns and represented Otago, Waikato and Manawatu at provincial level. In 2014, Palmer was inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame and she is a current member of the New Zealand Rugby Board.
She said it was a huge privilege to have the women’s provincial championship named after her: “It’s very humbling to have the competition named in my honour. I had to have a real think about accepting it because rugby is a team sport and there are lots of women and men who have gone before me that really helped women’s rugby develop. But then I thought it is a great honour and I am happy to be acknowledged this way.”