Taranaki rugby Union

Taranaki Rugby Football Union
File:Logo Taranaki Rugby Union.svg
Nickname(s) Amber and Blacks
Founded 1885;  (1885)
Region Hurricanes
Ground(s) Yarrow Stadium (Capacity: 25,000)
Coach(es) New Zealand Colin Cooper
Captain(s) New Zealand Craig Clarke
League(s) ITM Cup
3rd (2011)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Taranaki Rugby Football Union (TRFU) is the governing body of Rugby in the New Zealand province of Taranaki. The main stadium is Taranaki Stadium which is in the main centre of New Plymouth. Taranaki plays in the annual ITM Cup in which it also competes for the Ranfurly shield. Before 2006 the team competed in the National Provincial Championship (NPC), with its best finishes coming in 1998 and 2000 when they came fourth over all, both times being knocked out in the semifinals. In 2011 they placed 3rd in the ITM Cup, their best placing since the national championship began in 1976. Taranaki has won the NPC second division more than any other Union in New Zealand, a record that the club will keep now the NPC is defunct. Taranaki also plays for the Ryan Wheeler memorial trophy, a trophy played for annually with the Waikato Rugby Union.


The justification for marking the year 1885 as the Formation of the Taranaki Rugby Union is based not on the fact that the Union itself was created then, but because 1885 marked the first occasion on which Taranaki placed a touring team in the field, the Union was not actually established until 1889.

On 31 May 1898 the Hawera club convened a meeting at Hawera, of delegates from the Hawera, Waimate (Manaia), New Plymouth, Okaiawa, and Eltham clubs. This meeting agreed to form the Taranaki union. During the year Stratford and Midhirst clubs united as Manganui club, Tikorangi and Waitara clubs combined as Clifton club, and Inglewood and New Plymouth Star clubs were (among others) founded and became part of the union. By the turn of the century, Taranaki RFU had produced 11 All Blacks, six of whom toured Great Britain in 1905. In 1956 they held the South African tourists to a 3-3 draw.

Match Centurions

Across Taranaki rugby history 32 players have now played 100 or more matches for the Taranaki union.

The 32 players and the details are:

Career Span Matches
Career Span Matches
Career Span Matches
M. Allen 1988–1996 110 I. Flavell 1956–1965 105 R. Fraser 1973–1982 107
K. Barrett 1986–1999 167 A. Gardiner 1966–1975 102 K. Hurley 1959–1971 120
R. Brown 1953–1968 144 D. Loveridge 1974–1986 135 I. MacDonald 1956–1966 121
W. Bunn 1979–1989 109 S. McDonald 1991–1998, 2000 116 J. McEldowney 1967, 1969–1980 125
P. Burke 1948–1959 117 P. Martin 1967, 1970–1979 125 G. Mourie 1975–1982 104
C. Cooper 1979–1987 100 D. Murfitt 1984–1985 1987–1993 106 F. O’Carroll 1973–1983 128
K. Crowley 1980–1994 200 T. O’Sullivan 1955–1959 1961–1966 104 B. Robins 1980–1992 147
I. Eliason 1964–1981 223 A. Slater 1989–2001 180 G. Slater 1991–1995 1997–2005 176
R. Elmes 1980–1982 1984–1989 103 L. Thomson 1983–1985 1987–1991 104 J. Thwaites 1969–1981 120
K. Eynon 1991–1995 1999–2000 103 P. Tito 1998–2006 100 M. Watts 1978–1985 123
M. Wills 1962–1972 131 T. Penn 1999–2009 103
  • The primary source for this table is the official Taranaki web-site. It is worth noting that the basis of these figures is matches recognised by the Taranaki Union and not its parent body the NZ union. Two players have significant differences between the NZ union recognised figures and the Taranaki figures. Firstly, Ian Eliason's NZRFU recognised figure is 222 which gives him a share of the NZ record of most matches for a union while the Taranki figure includes a non-first class match which takes the figure to 223 which would give him the record outright. Kieran Crowley played in that same non-first class match and thus the NZRFU recognise just 199 of his matches as being first class.

Major Sponsors

The Major Sponsors for the Taranaki Rugby Team are:

  • Port Taranaki
  • Canterbury
  • Tui
  • SHUK

Principal Sponsor

  • Tenderlink


Amber and Black hoops with white shorts. Jerseys are made by Canterbury.


The Amber Army

The Amber Army is a chanting group formed in 2011, the year Taranaki won and defended the Ranfurly Shield. The Amber Army's motivation is to bring fans to the Northern Hill and chant the Amber and Blacks' to victory.[1] TRFU have one mascot represented in two forms. Ferdinand the Bull is a mechanical bull that is driven around the stadium at home games. "Ferdie" is dressed in a giant Taranaki kit and can be entered through the side. Ferdinand is also represented with a costume.

Club Rugby

Taranaki senior grade club rugby has a number of different divisions, with Senior A, Development (B), Senior 3rds and Under 20. The Senior A and Development competitions involve a seeded first round competition and a round-robin second round with both teams playing at the same venue. The Senior 3rd and U20 competitions are organised differently with the two grades each splitting late in the season. The top 5 teams in Senior 3rds compete for the Senior 3rd title, with the balance competing for the Senior 4ths title. The top 6 teams in U20 compete for their title with the balance competing in a subsidiary competition.

Club finals day sees all 6 titles decided at Yarrow Stadium, along with the U13 title. The clubs also organise junior teams for age groups from Under 6 to Under 13 competing in the Ferdie Rugby competitions.

A number of amalgamations have taken place in recent years and created merged clubs at Senior levels though some of these clubs have retained teams in lower grades under their own identities. Also New Plymouth Boys' High School and Francis Douglas Memorial College supply teams that compete in the U20 competition. FDMC's 1st XV and NPBHS' 2nd XV compete in this grade. NPBHS's 1st XV formerly competed in this grade as well but in recent years have chosen to focus on their college fixtures.


Current clubs and 2013 teams are (2012 teams listed - champions in Bold):

  • Bell Block RFC - Senior 3rds
  • Border RFC - Senior 3rds
  • Clifton RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Coastal RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Eltham/Kaponga RFC - Senior B, Senior 3rds
  • Kaitake RFC - No 2013 teams
  • Inglewood RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • New Plymouth Old Boys RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Okaiawa RFC - Senior 3rds
  • Spotswood United RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds
  • Southern RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Stratford RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Colts Under 21's
  • Toko RFC - Senior 3rds
  • Tukapa RFC - Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Whangamomona RFC - No 2013 teams
  • Francis Douglas Memorial College - Colts Under 21's
  • New Plymouth Boys' High School - Colts Under 21's

For historical purposes the merged clubs are:

  • Spotswood United RFC - Merger of the Spotswood College Old Boys and Star clubs
  • Coastal RFC - Merger of the Okato, Rahotu and Opunake clubs
  • Eltham/Kaponga RFC - Merger of the Eltham and Kaponga clubs
  • Southern RFC - Merger of the Hawera, Hawera Athletic and Waimate clubs
  • Border RFC - Merger of the Patea and Waverley clubs

Rugby at Secondary school level is organised by the TRFU via the Taranaki Secondary Schools Sports Association. The competition grades are Premier 1, Premier 2, Premier 3, U15 across 4 divisions (also open to players U16 and under 65 kg) and Girls The schools that participate in these grades are:

Central includes players from the Eltham and Kaponga areas that may no longer attend school but are eligible to play due to their age. It also includes players who travel through to either NPBHS, FDMC or Hawera HS for their schooling but wish to continue playing for the area. Coastal is an amalgamation of the two schools in the area and operates in the same manner.


Referee's play a major part in all rugby. The Taranaki Rugby Referee's Association (TRRA) is affiliated to the TRFU and provides referees for matches at all levels from high school, to the TRFU Senior A competition. The TRRA's major sponsor is Farmlands, which came on board at the beginning of 2012. The Referee's Association has a brilliant support group from active and non-active referees to referee coaches and executive members and hold weekly meetings and training sessions during the season.

The TRRA annually names a Top 5 panel based on performances at the conclusion of the senior club season.

Top 5 for 2013

  • 1) Cameron Stone (NZRU National Development Squad)
  • 2) Paul Williams (NZRU National Development Squad)
  • 3) Bruce Jordan
  • 4) Neville Ritson
  • 5) Max O’Leary

NB: National Squad member and Taranaki referee Richard Kelly wasn’t considered for the 2013 Top 5 due to his limited appearances in the club rugby scene due to representative commitments. He is however Taranaki’s highest ranked representative referee. Kelly spent 6 months refereeing in Georgia at the beginning of 2013 and will referee in this year’s ITM Cup competition. Last year he was the Assistant Referee 1 in the Championship Final between Counties Manukau and Otago.

These top 5 referees are involved in Assistant Refereeing and other appointments for Taranaki's home ITM matches, and Super Rugby and Internationals matches where required along with other premier referees.

  • Paul Williams, Bruce Jordan and Max O’Leary are new members to the 2013 Top 5. In William’s second year of premier club rugby, he will referee in this year’s Heartland competition as a member of the NZRU National Development Squad along with Cam Stone who is in his fourth year who has jumped to the number one spot after being fourth in 2012. O’Leary has had representative experience as he was selected in the Hurricanes Development Squad in 2009. Ritson remains in the Top 5.
  • After moving back to New Plymouth after 2 and a half years in Christchurch, William Johnston (22) has been re-selected in the Hurricanes Regional Squad for 2013 after been selected in the same squad in 2008 and 2009. The 2013 season was his first year in premier rugby and is the youngest in the 7 man premier panel. He will referee representative matches throughout the North Island during the 2013 representative season.

Current squad

The Taranaki squad for the 2013 ITM Cup season.[2]


  • New Zealand Carl Carmichael
  • New Zealand Shane Cleaver
  • New Zealand Ryan Cocker
  • New Zealand Sione Lea


  • New Zealand Abe Haira
  • New Zealand Rhys Marshall
  • New Zealand Timo Tutavaha


  • New Zealand James Broadhurst
  • New Zealand Jarrad Hoeata

Loose Forwards

Halfbacks (Scrum-halves)

First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)

  • New Zealand Beauden Barrett
  • New Zealand Daniel Brooks
  • New Zealand Rick McKenna
  • New Zealand Beaudein Waaka

Midfielders (Centres)

  • New Zealand Ope Peleseuma
  • New Zealand Andre Taylor
  • New Zealand Isaia Tuifua


  • New Zealand Frazier Climo
  • New Zealand Avon Lewis
  • New Zealand Waisake Naholo
  • New Zealand Jackson Ormond
  • New Zealand Seta Tamanivalu


Denotes that a player is unavailable due to injury, Bold denotes player is internationally capped.

Player Movements 2012



Awards (Amber & Black Awards)

2012 Amber & Black Awards.

  • Player of the Year: Michael Bent
  • Try of the Year: Jackson Ormond
  • Sportsman of the Year: Michael Bent
  • Top Points Scorer: Frazier Climo
  • Top Try Scorer: Kurt Baker
  • Most Promising Player: Jamison Gibson-Park
  • Back of the Year: James Marshall
  • Forward of the Year: Blade Thomson
  • Taranaki Daily News readers' choice MVP: Beauden Barrett
  • Personality of the Year: Kurt Baker

Notable players (current and former players)

Taranaki All Blacks

Current All Blacks

Former All Blacks

Harold Abbott - 1905-1906

Lewis Allen - 1896-1901
Mark Allen - 1993-1997
Beauden Barrett - 2012
Alfred Bayly - 1893-1897
Walter Bayly - 1894
George Beatty - 1950
Roger Boon - 1960
Noel Bowden - 1952
Kevin Briscoe - 1959-1964
Charlie Brown - 1913-1920
Handley Brown - 1924-1926
Ross Brown - 1955-1962
Peter Burke - 1951-1957
Mick Cain - 1913-1914
Don Cameron - 1908
Ray Clarke - 1932
Maurice Cockerill - 1951
Arthur Collins - 1932-1934
Kieran Crowley - 1983-1991
William Currey - 1968
Henry Dewar - 1913
Jason Eaton - 2005-2006
Ian Eliason - 1972-1973
Richard Fogarty - 1921

Ashley Gardiner - 1974

Francis Glasgow - 1905-1908
William Glenn - 1904-1906
Alan Good - 1893
Hugh Good - 1894
Augustine Hart - 1924-1925
Percy Hickey - 1922
Jarrad Hoeata - 2011
Andrew Hore - 2002-2012
Daniel Hughes - 1894
Arthur Humphries - 1897-1903
James Hunter - 1905-1908
David Johnston - 1925
Charles Kingstone - 1921
Alfred Kivell - 1929
James Lambie - 1893-1894
David Loveridge - 1978-1985
George Loveridge - 1913-1914
John McCullough - 1959
John McEldowney - 1976-1977
John Major - 1963-1967
Chris Masoe - 2005-2006
Frederick Masters - 1922
Hugh Mills - 1897

Graham Mourie - 1976-1982

Brian Muller - 1967-1971
Harry Mynott - 1905-1910
Bernard O’Dowda - 1901
James O’Sullivan - 1905-1907
Terrence O’Sullivan - 1960-1962
Richard Roberts - 1913-1914
Bryce Robins - 1985
Roy Roper - 1949-1950
Alistair Scown - 1972-1973
Gordon Slater - 1997-2000
Alan Smith - 1967-1970
Leonard Stohr - 1910-1913
John Sullivan - 1936-1938
Reginald Taylor - 1913
Roger Urbahn - 1959-1960
Scott Waldrom - 2008
John Walter - 1925
Edward Ward - 1928
James Watson - 1896
Murray Watts - 1979-1980
William Wells - 1897
Alfred West - 1920-1925
Murray Wills - 1967
Thomas Wolfe - 1961-1968

All Black captains

Reuben Thorne is the fourth old boy from New Plymouth Boys' High School to captain the All Blacks in a test match. Just one school, Southland Boys High School has produced more - with six.

New Plymouth’s four have been:

Year Tests
Alan Reid 1957 2 Tests
John Graham 1964 3 Tests
Graham Mourie 1977-82 19 Tests
Reuben Thorne 2001 22 Tests

The Dean Cup

The Dean Cup is believed to be the oldest competition trophy still being played for in the sport of Rugby Union. Played for between three rural Taranaki clubs, Strathmore, Whangamomona and Toko, it was originally presented by Mrs Athalinda Dean in 1906 for a cricket match, however due to poor playing conditions this was canceled and a rugby match began the tradition in 1907.

In 2003 when Whangamomona challenged Strathmore for the cup and the game was played at Yarrow Stadium on April 19 as a curtain raiser to the Hurricanes Vs Highlanders Super 12 match. Strathmore were victorious, on this occasion, holding on to defended the cup and winning 17-16 in front of a capacity crowd. This is the first time that the Dean Cup has been played for outside of the Eastern Districts.


External links

  • Official Site
  • Taranaki Referee Associations website
  • Taranaki rugby (NZHistory.net.nz)

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