The Farah Palmer Cup is the home of New Zealand’s top female rugby talent. With the support of Mitre 10, the competition currently features 11 teams playing across a premiership and championship division.
Canterbury won their maiden premiership title in 2017 leading the pack of Counties Manukau, Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu and Wellington.
The championship was contested by North Harbour, Otago, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Tasman with Bay of Plenty winning the crown and gaining promotion to the 2018 premiership division.
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 of 18 titles. Their dominance has faded in recent years with Counties Manukau claiming victory in 2016 and Canterbury in 2017.
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.”