Southland Rugby Football Union

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Southland Stags
Full name Southland Rugby Football Union
Union New Zealand Rugby Union
Nickname(s) Stags
Founded 1887; 128 years ago (1887)
Region Southland, New Zealand
Ground(s) Rugby Park Stadium (Capacity: 19,500)
Chairman New Zealand Paul Menzies
Director of Rugby New Zealand Brad Mooar
Coach(es) New Zealand Brad Mooar
Captain(s) New Zealand Jamie Mackintosh
League(s) ITM Cup Championship
2014 4th
Official website

Rugby Southland is the provincial rugby union who govern the Southland Region of New Zealand.[1] Rugby Southland is headquartered in Rugby Park Stadium, the home ground of the Southland Stags. Rugby Southland is renowned for producing quality players despite the small population of the province.

The union's home ground Rugby Park Stadium, formerly known as Homestead Stadium, is the home of Rugby Southland and the Southland Stags.[2] The Stags and most other Southland representative rugby union teams wear a maroon playing jersey, white shorts and maroon socks.[3] However, some Southland representative team jerseys also feature a blue hoop similar to that worn by the senior team in the early 2000s. The playing kit is produced by New Zealand company Canterbury of New Zealand.


1887–99 The Foundation Era[edit]

Founded in 1887 after splitting from Otago, Southland and its former stablemate went on to forge what is New Zealand’s longest inter-provincial rugby rivalries. The two sides have played more games against each other than any other representative teams in New Zealand. They played their first game against Otago, losing in a close affair. The Southland region already had strong club rugby teams with Invercargill competing in the Dunedin based competition. The Invercargill club had already produced two All Blacks. They were outside back, Henry Braddon and wing forward, James O'Donnell. In 1885 these two players were recognised as Otago All Blacks as they played their rugby for neighbouring province.

It was not until 1896 when Southland hooker, Nisbet McRobie was selected in the New Zealand team to play Queensland. The side won 9-nil and it was McRobie's only game in the 'black jersey', however he occupies a special place in Southland Rugby history as the provinces first of many All Blacks.

2006–09 Air New Zealand Cup Era[edit]

In the first year of Air New Zealand Cup after an up and down season only winning games against Hawke's Bay and Northland, the Stags did not make the original top 6 but went in to a repechage pool. After two easy repechage wins against Tasman and Taranaki, the Stags played the Northland Taniwha and with seconds to go the Stags were behind by seven when the Northland team were awarded a penalty and made the decision to kick the ball out to end the game. They were not aware due to the bonus point for losing by seven or less that the Southland team would win the pool.

The Stags therefore advanced to the quarter finals, but were beaten by eventual winners Waikato 24-12. They ended the season with Wing Watisoni Lotawa as the Stags leading try scorer with three and First five-eighth Blair Stewart as the team's top point scorer and the competitions third top with 83. The Stags form was rewarded with Halfback Jimmy Cowan retaining his place in th All Blacks and long serving Prop Clarke Dermody making his debut for the national team.

After the NZRU reviewed the Air New Zealand Cup, the repechage format was dropped. After early losses to Hawke's Bay and Waikato the Stags bounced back with a victory against Taranaki. They could not maintain their form from the week before losing to Auckland at Rugby Park. The Stags then won five games in a row including beating Otago at Carisbrook for the first time in since 1977.

After finishing sixth with a six win, four loss record, Southland were taught a lesson in the quarter final losing to Wellington 45-3. The end of the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup also marked the end of many players Southland careers, most notably internationals Clarke Dermody, Hale T-Pole and Kane Thompson.

Full of confidence in 2008 the Stags began their season against arch rivals Otago. Leading by one with time up Flanker Dion Bates attempted to kick the ball out to win the game, but the ball came of the side of Bates' boot and an offside player caught the ball giving Otago First-five Chris Noakes kicked the winning penalty from over 40 metres out.

After the early disappointment the Stags won two away games before heading back to Rugby Park where they lost to Wellington and convincingly beat the Counties Manukau Steelers by 23 points.

The Stags then traveled to Eden Park to challenge Auckland for the Ranfurly Shield. After ill-discipline cost the Stags six points and a try, the boot of Blair Stewart kept Southland in the game. They received many opportunities with Centre Kendrick Lynn causing problems for the Blue and Whites, but in the end ball retention cost the Stags with a final minute opportunity created by Robbie Robinson resulting in Auckland turning over the ball and kicking the ball out to end the game.

They rebounded from the disappointment by giving North Harbour a hiding and narrowly beating the Tasman Makos. Losses to Bay of Plenty and Canterbury disappointingly end what was a highly successful year for Southland.

The Stags qualified 5th for the quarter finals and travelled to Baypark Stadium, Mount Maunganui to play Bay of Plenty. They ended up winning the game by 34 points, qualifying for their first ever semi final since the introduction of structured competition in 1976. In the semi final the stags were beaten once again after putting up a fight against Wellington 28-19.

As well as being a successful year for the Stags as a team it also was a great year for first five eighth Blair Stewart who was the competitions top point scorer with 105 points, his form also helped him gain a contract in France and halfback Jimmy Cowan regained selection into the All Blacks and became a regular starter. The Stags also received colossal support with an average crowd of 7,500 at Rugby Park Stadium.

Southland's 2009 Air New Zealand Cup is their best since the introduction of structured a provincial rugby competition in 1976.

The Stags got off to a flying start beating Waikato for the first time since 2003, 16-6. They continued their top form into the next week beating Otago at Carisbrook, 29-19. This was the teams' 232nd meeting, the most between provinces in New Zealand rugby history.

They lost the next game to the Manawatu Turbos at Rugby Park Stadium. The team reversed their home fortunes in their next game beating Hawkes Bay, 18-9.

At North Harbour Stadium the next week Southland won against North Harbour for the first time away from home. Then the Stags experienced a slight hiccup, drawing with Northland. The next week they beat the Bay of Plenty Steamers at home 19-12 in a top of the table clash. They then started a downhill slide losing to Wellington and then to Auckland.

The two losses made the Stags next game a must win and they delivered against Tasman. Southland won 41-nil with Glen Horton scoring a hat-trick of tries. They followed-up the next game to beat Taranaki 29-13. The next week was labelled as one of the greatest weeks in Southland Rugby. On Thursday 22 October 2009 the Stags challenged Canterbury at AMI Stadium, Christchurch for the Ranfurly Shield. In front of the crowd of 10,500 of which most were Southlanders Robbie Robinson kicked three penalty goals to compliment a sound defensive display that was enough to win the Log of wood of the Cantabs and secure a spot in the semi-finals. The week the Stags were treated to a massive street parade around Invercargill. Nearly 20,000 fans turned up completing a great week which saw Southland win the Log of wood for the first time since 1959. Southland were knocked out of the Air New Zealand Cup the following week in the semifinal against Wellington, losing 34-21.

2009–11 Ranfurly Shield Era[edit]

They were the first South Island provincial team to claim the coveted Ranfurly Shield after defeating Wellington by a score of 17-6 in 1920.[4] Since then Southland have won and held the shield a number of times, most recently claiming it after a 51-year drought defeating Canterbury 9-3 at AMI Stadium, Christchurch. After capturing the shield, Southland lost it back to Canterbury the following year. Southland then reclaimed the shield from Canterbury in Christchurch on 23 July 2011, winning 22-19. The shield was then lost to Taranaki 15-12 on 24 August 2011.

2012–14 The Recruitment Era[edit]

After the Ranfurly Shield reigns of 2009 and 2011 the Stags team's performance steadied towards the middle of the table. The team found a selection of its players being scouted and signed up by other provinces. This outflow of quality players led the union to increase their club player scouting throughout New Zealand. The move down south would allow many talented club players a better chance to break into the ITM Cup. In 2013 there was a large selection of Auckland club rugby players that transferred to premier clubs in Invercargill and the surrounding districts. The following year in 2014 saw club rugby players following in the paths of the previous years Auckland players.

Club Rugby[edit]

Current Squad[edit]

The squad for the 2014 ITM Cup season has been named as follows.




Loose Forwards


First Fives


Outside Backs

  • New Zealand Keanu Kahukura
  • Tonga Otulea Katoa †
  • Fiji Lolohea Loco
  • New Zealand Warrick Lynn
  • New Zealand Bryan Milne
  • New Zealand Junior Ngaluafe
  • New Zealand Jamie Verran

(c) Denotes team captain, Substituted in Denotes player used as injury cover, † denotes player is internationally capped and * denotes a player is internationally capped in sevens

Southland Representatives[edit]

2014 Super Rugby Representatives[edit]

Southland are one of three sub unions to make up the Highlanders Super Rugby team, the other two unions being Otago and North Otago. While the Highlanders are the largest selector of Southland players other Super Rugby teams also select from the province. The Stags teams has always been a strong producer of talented Super Rugby players despite the insignificant population of the province.

Player Super Rugby Team
Josh Bekhuis Highlanders
Elliot Dixon Highlanders
John Hardie Highlanders
John Hardie Highlanders
JP Koen Highlanders
Nick Barrett Chiefs
Robbie Robinson Chiefs
Cardiff Vaega Hurricanes

Internationally Capped Players[edit]

Southland has always been a strong provider of international rugby players, especially in its early days. The following is a list of players in the 2014 ITM Cup squad who have represented their home countries at the highest level.

Player Country Code
Jamie Mackintosh New Zealand Union
Talemaitoga Tuapati Fiji Union
Otulea Katoa Tonga Union
Mark Jackman New Zealand Sevens

International Age Group Representatives[edit]

This is a list of international age group representative who currently play or have previously played for Southland.

Player Rep Team Year
Nick Barrett New Zealand Under 19s 2007
John Hardie New Zealand Under 19s 2007
Elliot Dixon New Zealand Under 20s 2009
Brayden Mitchell New Zealand Under 20s 2009
Robbie Robinson New Zealand Under 20s 2009
Tony Keresoma Samoa Under 20s 2010
Alex Ryan New Zealand Under 20s 2009
Scott Eade New Zealand Under 20s 2011,12
Tuki Raimona New Zealand Under 20s 2012
Marty McKenzie New Zealand Under 20s 2012
Tayler Adams New Zealand Under 20s 2013

Notable former players[edit]

Historical Placings[edit]

Competition Placing
1982 NPC South Island Second Division Champions
1984 NPC South Island Second Division Champions
1989 NPC Second Division Champions
1994 NPC Second Division Champions
1996 NPC Second Division Champions
2006 Air New Zealand Cup 8th Place
2007 Air New Zealand Cup 6th Place
2008 Air New Zealand Cup 4th Place
2009 Air New Zealand Cup 3rd Place
2010 ITM Cup 7th Place


External links[edit]