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Tricky Heartland dates

Wai-Bush will play Thames Valley in their third home match. PHOTO/FILE


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There were no surprises for Farriers Wairarapa-Bush coach Mark Rutene in the Heartland Championship draw made public on Tuesday.

The schedule is the same as the proposed 2020 competition, which was cancelled because of the impact of covid-19.

Wai-Bush will kick off their campaign on August 21 with a home game against West Coast.

That will be followed by their first away match against King Country for the Lochore-Meads Memorial Scroll.

The second home game against East Coast will have special significance as part of the union’s 50th anniversary celebrations of the amalgamation of the Wairarapa and Bush rugby unions in 1971.

The green and reds will also host Thames Valley and Mid-Canterbury, which is the final game of the round-robin and will have a later kick-off time of 6pm to accommodate the visitors’ travel schedule.

Wai-Bush play Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin and will face Heartland heavyweights South Canterbury and Whanganui in tricky away games on consecutive weekends.

Rutene said he pretty much knew what the draw would be, and planning has been underway for a while.

“You never know what you’re going to get from season to season and what teams are going to be in the top half and bottom group, because the teams change so much,” he said.

“It’s good for us to start with a home game, but we’ll be taking it each game at a time.”

In the build-up to the championship, Wai-Bush will play pre-season fixtures against Poverty Bay in Napier for the Jeremy David Memorial Trophy, Wellington Centurions, and Wellington Samoans.

Wai-Bush Heartland fixtures

August 21 – West Coast at Masterton, 2.30pm; August 28 – King Country at Te Kuiti, 2.30pm; September 4 – Horowhenua-Kapiti at Levin, 2.30pm; September 11 – East Coast at Masterton, 2.30pm; September 18 – Thames Valley at Masterton, 2.30pm; September 25 – South Canterbury at Timaru, 2.30pm; October 2 – Whanganui at Whanganui, 2.30pm; October 9 – Mid Canterbury at Masterton, 6pm.

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