Northland's maiden win now etched into the history books

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With the competition in its infancy the historical narrative is still building and rivalries are developing. But wins by Bay of Plenty and Northland in week four have shown what could flourish in the coming years.


Rivalries are a big part of sport. Sometimes they need to be manufactured, but largely they happen organically. North Harbour may yet play Northland again this season but, if not, they have a year to stew and brood on their last minute loss at Semenoff Stadium which handed the competition’s newest team its first ever win.


The nearest of neighbours, players from both Northland and Harbour have connections with the other union; none more so than Northland’s Stacey Tupe who carved up her old side in helping the Kauri to that joyous moment. It’s a match now etched into the history of both unions and you can bet it’ll be mentioned every time the teams meet in the coming years.

It’d been 20 years since Bay of Plenty’s one and only win over Waikato, but this one couldn’t have been timelier. After losing their opening three games, a Volcanix team which started the season with high hopes has now found itself back in the Premiership semi-final mix and with a trophy in the cabinet.


The Chiefs Country Cup may appear to be one of those manufactured rivalries, but in terms of the FPC it’s a worthy initiative. The tight smile on the face of Waikato’s Chelsea Alley as she handed it to BOP skipper Christie Yule on the weekend, gave a glimpse into how those two unions could build a shared history.


Outside of the Chiefs Country Cup and JJ Stewart trophy, the only other interprovincial trophy I’m aware of in the FPC is the Attenborough-McBeth Challenge trophy. Played between Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay since 2010, it’s named after the two coaches of the first women’s provincial match held in Palmerston North in 1980. Currently in Manawatu hands, it already has a wonderful history and stories connected to it, but it won’t be on the line this year because of the competition structure.


By comparison, there are at least 24 men’s interprovincial trophies - Auckland alone plays for seven of them. They have varying degrees of importance but each one is part of the history and fabric of the unions and national provincial championship.


The Farah Palmer Cup is building a story, but perhaps more could be done to recognise the past which in turn will create little moments to add just a bit more spice each week.


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Rikki Swannell

Rikki Swannell has been a sports broadcaster for 15 years, including six years as Sports Editor for Radio Sport/Newstalk ZB, covering various World Cups, Olympics and Commonwealth Games. Now a freelance commentator and reporter, she can be heard on rugby, netball, tennis, cricket and hockey for Sky Sport and on the Women's World Sevens Series.


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