April 2 will see the beginning of the Auckland Rugby League Premier Competition.
Auckland Premier Clubs will compete in three divisions over the season, with the teams competing in Division 3, The Phelan Shield, having been decided at the end of last season using the promotion and relegation system. Top two teams in Phelan Shield go up a division, and the bottom two teams in Division 2, Sharman Cup, drop down to Phelan. Nine clubs, this season, will play out the Phelan Shield.
The remaining 16 clubs ( in 2 sections ) will battle out a 7 game competition to determine which 8 clubs will compete for the 1st Division, much revered, Fox Memorial Trophy, and which 8 will go to the Sharman Cup competition.
The Grading Round is short, sharp and has sent many a coach prematurely gray. The kind of competition you can be leading four weeks out from the end and still go out the back door. Somewhat contentiously,since the (National) Bartercard Cup Competition does not start until two weeks later, those clubs holding Bartercard licenses are able to field their elite players to attempt to gain an early advantage. Not surprisingly,those clubs that don't have Bartercard teams complain long and hard, but at this point, it is unlikely to change.
Let the battle for the Mad Butcher Fox Memorial Trophy commence.
The Mad Butcher Fox Memorial Grading Round Round 1 - 2nd April
Section 1 East Coast Bays v Manukau Freyberg Park Papakura v Ponsonby Prince Edward Park Glenora v Mangere East Harold Moody Park Marist v Mt Albert Murray Halberg Park
Section 2 Howick v Otara Paparoa Park Ellerslie v Bay Roskill Ellerslie Domain Te Atatu v Manurewa Jack Colvin Park Richmond v Otahuhu Grey Lynn Park