For the first time since 2013, the Charter Hall Shute Shield will return to an eight-team finals series, increasing the post-season credentials of clubs facing finals droughts.
The restructure results in a four-week finals series culminating on September 3, with a 3pm Grand Final to be held once again at Leichhardt Oval.
These changes have been mirrored in both the Second Grade and First Grade Colts competitions, with these Grand Finals also to be played on September 3 in the lead up to First Grade.
All remaining grade and colts competitions will retain six-team finals series, with Grand Finals to be held on 27 August.
General Manager of Sydney Rugby Union, Peter Watkins, says the changes continue the exciting development of premiership rugby in NSW.
“Shifting toward this expanded Finals series is recognition of the growth of our competition,” he said.
“Season 2022 has been one of the closest Shute Shield competitions in recent memory. Including an eight-team Finals series rewards clubs that have shown considerable development over the past 12-months with finals action.
“Given the cancellation of last year's competition, all clubs have enjoyed a longer break to greater prepare for what has been a cracking season so far.
“For our fans, this of course means more of what they love. With the entire Charter Hall Shute Shield Finals series to be aired Ad-Free, Live and On-Demand on Stan Sport and one match each weekend on Nine GEM.
“Thanks to our broadcast partners Nine, Stan Sport and Rugby Australia - following this season's finals has never been easier for our fans.”
The expanded Finals structure also significantly improves the post-season credentials of clubs like the Two Blues and Hunter Wildfires, who both currently sit in top eight positions.
It would be a Shute Shield Finals debut for the Newcastle club, while the Two Blues are searching for their first Finals action since 2012.
“It would be fantastic to see these clubs feature at the pointy end of the season,” Watkins said.
“There are no easy fixtures in 2022 and that’s a trend we want to see continue beyond this season.
“Leichhardt Oval also offers the perfect stage for the biggest match of the year. We saw in 2020 how fantastic the atmosphere was for Eastwood, Gordon and Shute Shield fans alike.
“I’m sure every fan is eager to see their club feature on that first Saturday in September.”
In 2013, it was Sydney University and Eastwood who battled it out for ultimate Shute Shield glory, with the former comfortably accounting for the Woodies 51-6.
If this season's results are anything to abide by, the 2022 Grand Final will be a dramatically closer encounter, with only 6-points separating our current top four.
With all clubs enjoying a well-earned bye round this Saturday, teams vying for the top eight spots will be rejuvenated ahead of the run for finals.