The Northland Rugby Football Union
(NRFU) is the governing body of rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...
in the Northland
region of New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...
Rugby was first played in Northland in the 1870s, and the first union was set up in the province in 1895, known as the Marsden Football Union. The Northland union was founded in 1920, as North Auckland Rugby Union
. It formed when the Whangarei Rugby Union applied to the New Zealand Union to have the areas controlled by the Whangarei, Northern Wairoa, Bay of Islands, Otamatea and Hokianga sub-unions combined as a major union. This application was granted in 1921. In 1994, North Auckland changed its name to the Northland Rugby Football Union
North Auckland played their first ever match as union on August 3, 1920, in a 11-0 victory over South Island Country. However, they didn't play their first 'inter-union' match until July 27, 1922 - an 8-6 loss at the hands of Auckland in Whangarei. Their first 'inter-union' win came on August 30, 1923, when they beat King Country 20-8
Northland, as North Auckland, have held the Shield on only four occasions - 1950, 1960, 1971 and 1978. However, they have been a part of a couple of the most memorable moments in Shield History.
Northland's first ever challenge came on July 3, 1935. The 126th Ranfurly Shield match. Northland lost this challenge comprehensively, 29-8, to Auckland.
Northland first won the Shield in 1950, with a 20-9 win over South Canterbury. However, their reign lasted only three games, as Waikato took it off them with a 6-3 win. Almost 10 years passed before Northland won the Shield again, beating Auckland 24-11 in 1960. Their defense of the Shield this time around was not any better, losing it back to Auckland only 11 days later.
More than 10 years passed before Northland would win the Shield for a third time. On this occasion, they beat Auckland 17-12, in 1971. This Shield-winning side fared much better than their predecessors. They managed six successful defenses before losing the Shield back to Auckland in 1972, in what is commonly regarded as the most famous rugby match in Northland history. "Ranfurly Shield Fever" hit the city of Whangarei hard before this encounter. One memorable sign was erected on Whangarei's main street on the morning of the match, reading: "Northland vs South Northland". While another sign, erected just south of Whangarei, read: "You are now entering Ranfurly Shield Country". When game-time arrived, a staggering 40,000 people crammed into Whangarei's Okara Park. An amazing number considering, at the time, Whangarei was a city of only 34,000 people, and Okara Park's capacity seating was not near 40,000. Despite Northland losing the match 16-15, it is seen as a monumental, and proud moment in Northland rugby history.
Incensing a Nation
Northland's fourth, and final, Shield victory came in 1978, with a 12-10 win over Manawatu. Northland only managed to win this game by scoring a penalty goal a few minutes after what should have been full-time. Although the Manawatu supporters were livid with what they had just witnessed, what was to follow severely dented the reputation of Northland rugby for years to come. Northland, after regaining the Shield, were to finish their season with two home fixtures against Southland and Otago. Being home matches, everyone assumed they would be Shield defenses, but to the astonishment of the Southland and Otago unions, Northland refused to put the Shield on the line for these matches. Both Southland and Otago took the case to the New Zealand union's appeal committee, but to no avail. Rage towards the Northland union spread throughout the country, even within its own province. Ted Griffin, who coached Northland to its previous Shield wins, boycotted Northlands home matches, but visited the Southland and Otago teams to offer his condolences.
Northland proceeded to defend the Shield successfully five times in the 1979 season. However, very few cared. Many people - players, officials, fans etc - had lost a lot of respect for the Northland union due to the way they ended the 1978 season. Although they lost the Shield on their 6th defense, to who else but Auckland, Northland had left a bad taste in peoples mouths for the next few years to come.
Current squad for the 2011 ITM Cup
Bryce Woodward (Head Coach) Blair Larsen (Assistant Coach) Johnny Claxton (Head Fitness Trainer) Brian Papesch (Team Manager) Ashley Draper (Physio)
Because the Northland union is linked with the Blues Super Rugby team, Taniwha players are eligible for selection to the Blues without a drafting system or negotiations with other franchises.
Waikato Chiefs 1995-1998
When NZRU were initially deciding the team compositions for the Super 12 in 1995 it was decided that to have the Blues franchise encompass the North Harbour, Counties-Manukau, Northland and Auckland provincial rugby unions would be unfair. This was due to the preponderance of All Blacks (players representing New Zealand) who came from North Harbour, Counties-Manukau and Auckland at the time. Hence if the Blues were to consist of these unions, they would field an All Blacks team in all but name.
This led to North Harbour and Northland being represented by the nearest other team, the Chiefs
The Chiefs are a professional Rugby union team based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Their home ground is Waikato Stadium. The Chiefs play in black, red and yellow coloured jerseys...
(at the time named the Waikato Chiefs).
By the end of the 1990s the number of All Blacks from these unions had decreased. This led the Blues and the Chiefs to arrange a swap, where the Chiefs would represent Thames Valley and Counties Manukau in exchange for the Blues representing Northland and North Harbour.
Due to the large size of the Northland province, the Northland rugby union is divided into 7 sub-unions. Each sub-union represents a number of rugby clubs.
- Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is an area in the Northland Region of the North Island of New Zealand. Located 60 km north-west of Whangarei, it is close to the northern tip of the country....
Hokianga is an area surrounding the Hokianga Harbour, also known as The Hokianga River, a long estuarine drowned valley on the west coast in the north of the North Island of New Zealand....
Dargaville is a town in the North Island of New Zealand. It is situated on the bank of the Northern Wairoa River in the Northland region. The town is located 55 kilometres southwest of Whangarei....
Maungaturoto is a small town in the Northland Region of New Zealand. The population was 837 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 87 from 2001. It is the second largest settlement in the Kaipara District....
The Rodney District of New Zealand was a local government area in the northernmost part in New Zealand's Auckland Region, created in 1989 from the amalgamation of Helensville Borough and Rodney County. The seat of the district council is at Orewa, and the district includes Kawau Island to the...
Whangarei, pronounced , is the northernmost city in New Zealand and the regional capital of Northland Region. Although commonly classified as a city, it is officially part of the Whangarei District, administered by the Whangarei District Council a local body created in 1989 to administer both the...
Bay of Islands Sub-Union
- Kaeo RFC
- Kaikohe RFC
- Kerikeri RFC
- Moerewa RF Sports Club
Ohaeawai RF and Sports Club
Okaihau RUF and Sports Club
Otiria RUF and Sports Club
United Kawakawa RFC
- Horeke RFC
- Mangamuka RFC
- Motukohu RFC
- Aupouri RF and Sports Club
- Awanui RFC
- Eastern United RFC
Kaitaia City RFC
Kaitaia Pirates RFC
Mangonui Women's Rugby Club
Western United RFC
Northern Wairoa Sub-Union
- Dargaville Old Boys Football and Softball Club
- Dargaville Rugby and Sports Club
- Kaihu Valley RFC
- Otamatea Hawks RFC
- Paparoa RFC
- Port Albert RFC
Omaha RFC (defunct, amalgamated into Mahurangi RFC)
Warkworth RFC (defunct, amalgamated into Mahurangi RFC)
Kaipara Flats RFC (defunct, amalgamated into Mahurangi RFC)
Whangarei City Sub-Union
- City RFC
- Hikurangi RFC
- Hora Hora RFC
Hora Hora RFC is a rugby club based in Whangarei, New Zealand.Hora Hora is affiliated to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union via the Northland Rugby Football Union and Whangarei City Sub-union.-Location:...
- Kamo Rugby and Squash Club
Marist Rugby Club
Mid Northern RFC
Mid Western Rugby and Squash Club
Old Boys Rugby and Sports Club
Waimarie Rugby Club
Waipu Rugby and Squash Club
Notable former players
| Rupeni Caucaunibuca
-Early years:Caucaunibuca or "Rups", as called by those who knew him, grew up most of his life in the village. Caucaunibuca's father was a church minister based around the Bua province on the northern parts of Fiji so his family frequently moved....
AB Ian 'Kamo' Jones AB Joe Morgan
Joe Leonard Morgan is a former Major League Baseball second baseman who played for the Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Oakland Athletics from 1963 to 1984. He won two World Series championships with the Reds in 1975 and 1976 and was also named the...
AB Glenn Taylor Alan Tubbs Brent Wakaa AB Norman Berryman Tony Monaghan AB Norman Maxwell AB 'Super' Sid Going
Sid Going MBE is a former New Zealand rugby union footballer. Dubbed Super Sid by his fans, he played 86 matches, including 29 tests for the All Blacks between 1967 and 1977....
AB Peter Sloane
Peter Sloane is a New Zealand rugby coach and former player. He played for Northland from 1972–1983, and made fifteen appearances for the All Blacks, including one test match, between 1973 and 1979...
Mike Storey Jason Shoemark
Jason Shoemark is a professional rugby union player who serves as a centre for the Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership.-New Zealand:...
is a Japanese international rugby union player. He plays primarily at fly-half.-Club career:Unusually he made his Super rugby debut for the Auckland Blues, prior to making his first start in provincial rugby, making the step from junior rugby with Pakuranga and Auckland Colts, due to the then Blues...
| Errol Brain
Errol F. Brain is a former New Zealand rugby union player and a current coach. He played as back-row.Brain had more than 100 caps for Counties Manukau. He played for Auckland Blues and Waikato Chiefs , in New Zealand, and Valence d'Agen , in France...
AB Fred Woodman AB Kawhena Woodman AB Ian Dunn AB Derren Witcombe
Derren John Charles Witcombe is a New Zealand rugby union footballer who plays at the position of hooker. He plays for Auckland at provincial level and the Blues in the Super 14. He was a surprise pick in the All Black squad in 2005 after playing only eight games for the Blues behind incumbent All...
AB Con Barrell AB Richie Guy AB Bill Heke AB Bunny Finlayson AB Eddie Dunn AB Victor Yates
Victor Moses Yates was a New Zealand rugby footballer who represented his country in rugby union. His brother, John, represented New Zealand in rugby league while his father, Moses, represented North Auckland in rugby union....
AB Johnny Smith AB Murray Jones
| AB Ian Irvine AB Blair Larsen AB Ken Going Chippie Semenoff AB Hamish Macdonald AB Alf Waterman AB Michael Speight AB Des Webb AB Mike Burgoyne Robbie Johnson Jared Going Brian Going Geoff Crawford
|| Milton Going "Big" Joe Veitayaki AB Peter 'Tiger' Jones AB Bevan Holmes AB Lindsay Townsend AB Wayne Neville AB Nau Paora 'Brownie' Cherrington Julian Huxley
Julian Huxley is an Australian rugby union footballer. In 2008 he had established himself in the Wallabies and was named Australian Rookie of the Year...
Sam Payne Sam Pinder AB Mose Tuiali'i
Mose Tuiali'i is a rugby union player who plays for Canterbury in the Air New Zealand Cup and for the Crusaders in the Super 14. He plays for Suburbs in the Christchurch premier competition. He has played for the All Blacks between 2004 and 2006 in which he has played 9 tests. His position is No 8...
Mark "Zggy" Seymour Nick White Fero Lasagavaibau Lee Peina Jason Barrell Doug Te Puni