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Mitre 10 Heartland Championship kicks off for 2019

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The 12 Heartland Unions take the field this weekend to begin their pursuit for the Meads and Lochore Cups in the 2019 Mitre 10 Heartland Championship.

Defending Meads Cup champions Thames Valley kick things off, hosting Poverty Bay in Paeroa tomorrow afternoon.

In what is a big year for Heartland rugby, the competition begins a week before the New Zealand Heartland XV take on Samoa in a historic match at Eden Park.

It also marks the first season that both trophy namesakes will not be on hand to present the silverware, with Heartland stalwart and New Zealand Rugby legend Sir Brian Lochore passing away three weeks ago.

"We have no doubt that Sir Brian will be in the thoughts of many of the teams as they take the field this weekend and throughout the season.

"Having the two Heartland trophies named after two of the greats is a fitting way to honour the impact they had on the provincial game," said New Zealand Rugby’s Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass.

Horowhenua Kapiti are the current holders of the Lochore Cup and will have a tough start to the season as they travel to Ashburton to face Mid Canterbury.

In other round one fixtures Wairarapa Bush host perennial strong performers Wanganui, East Coast travel to face Buller, neighbours go head to head with South Canterbury hosting North Otago and King Country travel to play West Coast.

The Mitre 10 Heartland Championship will run for eight weeks of modified round robin before the top four play Meads Cup semifinals and the next four go to battle for the Lochore Cup.

Semifinals for both Cups will be played on 19 October, with the Finals to be played the following weekend.

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