http://nz.sports.yahoo.com/rugby/news/article/-/5743242/nzru-announces-new-10team-premier-division Four of this season's Air New Zealand Cup sides won't be playing in the top division next year following the release of the new domestic rugby structure by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) today. From next season a 10-team Premier Division, a six-team Division One and a 10-team Heartland competition will be in place, with automatic promotion and relegation between the top two divisions. The new competitions were adopted by the NZRU board at the weekend following a series of workshops involving New Zealand's 26 provincial unions, Super 14 franchises and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association. "We had a very clear message from our provincial unions earlier this year that change was necessary and that we needed to act quickly and decisively," said NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs. "With the support and involvement of our provincial unions we have done that and believe this structure is one which meets the competition principles which New Zealand's rugby collective decided were important." The key principles of the new competition are: - Super Rugby players must be included - It should have a stand-alone window (which also recognises the windows for club rugby and Super rugby) - There is a full round-robin and playoffs - It has promotion and relegation - It guarantees four or five home games per team - Must be completed with a 10-12 week window and - Must be concluded by the end of October NZRU CEO Steve Tew confirmed the new competition fitted those principles as well as creating a national finals day across all three competitions. He also said further consideration will be given to promotion-relegation between the new Division One competition and the Heartland competition. And the financial issues which have affected unions like Tasman and Counties Manukau last season are also going to have a major impact on who plays in which of the divisions. Each club wanting to participate in the Premier Division will have to undergo a solvency test and will be assessed via criteria agreed to by all participating teams in this year's Air New Zealand Cup. "There is a real incentive for provincial unions to perform both on and off the field in 2009 as these results will be part of the assessment criteria," said Tew. "Similarly, for those provinces that do play in Division One in 2010 there is a pathway back via promotion-relegation." The examination of the on- and off-field results will take place in November with the results set to be announced in December of this year. And while there was potential for both provincial unions and their supporters to be concerned about the future of their team, Tew was mindful of the requirement to act now and create certainty going forward for all provincial unions. One the assessments are completed Tew has said the NZRU will work closely with the affected unions, including any from the Heartland Championship seeking inclusion into Division One, to ensure the competition is 'meaningful, sustainable, attractive and aspirational'. Full details of the new domestic rugby structure: At its meeting on July 18, 2009, the NZRU Board agreed to a new domestic competition structure for New Zealand. This would feature the following elements: A Premier Division comprising 10 teams with a round robin, semis and a final and automatic promotion/relegation between the Premier and Division One competitions; A Division One competition comprised of six teams with four teams being those teams ranked 11 to 14 from the current Air New Zealand Cup competition and two teams coming up from the Heartland Competition. This would be played using a home and away format with a final. The winner of the Final being automatically promoted; A Heartland competition which would comprise 10 teams with a round robin, semis and a final. Further consideration is to be given to whether there should be promotion-relegation between the Heartland competition and Division one and if so, what form it will take. Competition Structure Premier Division: 10 Teams Round Robin with Semis and Final 4 or 5 home matches Semi-finals and final playoffs Automatic promotion/relegation between 10th team and Division One final winners Division One: 6 Teams (4 from existing Air New Zealand Cup and 2 from existing Heartland Championship) Home and away with Final 5 home matches No semi-finals given there are only six teams who will have played each other twice already Automatic promotion to the Premier Division for finals winner Heartland 10 Teams Round Robin with Semis and Final 4 or 5 home matches Promotion-relegation to be considered further. Competition Windows (2010) Games will start on Saturday August 14 and the finals day for all competitions will be on Saturday October 23. Domestic Competitions Structure Review and Implementation Timeline: May 22 2009: Air New Zealand Cup workshop to discuss competitions structure June 19 2009: NZRU Board endorses competition principles from workshop June 20 2009: Provincial Union and Franchise Workshop July 7 2009: Heartland Championship Provincial Union Workshop July 18 2009: NZRU Board agrees new competition structure for 2010 onwards Nov 20 2009: Assessment of Provincial Unions following 2009 season completion Dec 2009: Competition participants confirmed Aug 14 2010: New domestic competitions commence Oct 23 2010: Inaugural Final of new domestic competitions -- Personally I think this is a rubbish call on the NZRU's behalf. Attendances aren't going to jump up if they keep changing the structure and going back on their calls.