1976 New Zealand rugby league season
The 1976 New Zealand rugby league season was the 69th season of rugby league that had been played in New Zealand. This was the first season played under the current rule of each team being limited to six tackles per possession.
A New Zealand XIII defeated the touring Sydney Metropolitan side 18-5 at Carlaw Park. From the team, only Bill Sorensen junior and Terry Gillman never wore the Kiwi jersey. The New Zealand selectors were Ron Ackland (coach), Morrie Church and George Menzies.
Sydney opened their tour with a 41-3 win over Waikato, who included Rick Muru and Paul Ravlich, before heading north to face New Zealand XIII. They then defeated North Island 54-8. North Island was without players from Waikato, Auckland and New Zealand XIII. The North Island included Joe Karam, Nolan Tupaea, Bruce Gall and Graeme West.
The South Island upset Sydney Metropolitan 18-17 with Bruce Dickison (two tries) and Michael O'Donnell (six goals) scoring all of the points. The South Island also included Eddie Kerrigan, David Field, John Griffin, Mark Broadhurst, captain Tony Coll and Mocky Brereton.
Auckland ended the tour with a 17-7 defeat of Sydney Metropolitan. Auckland also defeated St Helens R.F.C. during the season but lost to the New South Wales Rugby League's Eastern Suburbs Roosters. Auckland included Joe Karam, Fred Ah Kuoi, captain Dennis Williams, Bill Sorensen, John Smith, Shane Dowsett, Lyndsay Proctor, Dane Sorensen, Josh Liavaa, Kurt Sorensen and Dave Sorensen.
Rugby League Cup
During the season the New Zealand Rugby League board changed the rules to allow Waikato to accept challenges from Minor Leagues. Previously only the Major Leagues had been able to challenge for the trophy.
Auckland won the Rothmans trophy, defeating Canterbury 29-22 in the final at the Addington Showgrounds. Auckland had earlier defeated Midlands-Bay of Plenty 51-26, Waikato 34-18 and Wellington 36-23.
Auckland were coached by Bill Sorensen and included Fred Ah Kuoi, John Smith, Chris Jordan, Dennis Williams, Joe Karam and Kurt Sorensen. Warren Collicoat and John O'Sullivan played for Wellington. Jim Fisher coached Canterbury who included Bob Jarvis and Murray Wright. Tony Coll played for the West Coast.
North Island club competition
The second DB Draught North Island club competition was held. Qualifying was on 26 September and featured clubs from eight regions; Northland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hamilton, Midlands, Taranaki, Hawkes' Bay and Manawatu. In Huntly, Taniwharau (Waikato) defeated the Portland Parrots (Northland) 38-10 while the Ngongotaha Chiefs (Bay of Plenty) defeated Frankton Albions (Hamilton) 26-19. The Waitara Bears (Taranaki) and Tokoroa (Midlands) won qualifying matches against teams from Manawatu and Hawkes' Bay on the same day. Their matches were held in Manawatu.
On 2 October at Matarawa Park in Tokoroa, Taniwharau defeated Ngongotaha 41-10 and Tokoroa defeated Waitara 19-14. The final was held at Davies Park and saw Taniwharau defeat Tokora 27-12. Taniwharau included Rick Muru.
|Qualifying Round||Semi Finals||Grand Final|
|Mataraw Park, Tokoroa
|Davies Park, Huntly|
|Portland Parrots (Northland)||10|
|Ngongotaha Chiefs (Bay of Plenty)||26|
|Frankton Albions (Hamilton)||19|
|Waitara Bears (Taranaki)|
Auckland were eliminated in Round two of the Amco Cup when they lost 8-21 to the Balmain Tigers. Auckland had defeated Redcliffe 30-5 in Round one. Canterbury lost 7-38 to Brisbane Easts in Round one.
Mount Wellington won the Auckland Rugby League's Fox Memorial Trophy and Rukutai Shield. They defeated Glenora 20-12 in the Fox final. Richmond won the Roope Rooster and Stormont Shield while Glenora won the Kiwi Shield, Te Atatu won the Sharman Cup and City Newton won the Norton Cup.
Dane Sorensen played for Mount Wellington, in his last season in New Zealand before signing with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. He won the Lipscombe Cup. His brother Kurt, who also played for Mount Wellington, won the Rothville Trophy.
Murray Netzler (Ellerslie) and Gary Kemble (Ellerslie) won the Bert Humphries Memorial while Gus Fepuleai (Richmond) won the Tetley Trophy, Joe Karam (Glenora) won the Painter Rosebowl Trophy and Ron Ackland (Mt Wellington) won the Hyland Memorial Cup.
Hornby signed Bob Jarvis, Wayne Robertson and Murray Wright from Auckland, for which the New Zealand Rugby League imposed a $1000 transfer fee per player. The Eastern Suburbs included Graeme Cooksley. Mark Broadhurst played for Papanui.
The Canterbury Rugby League assisted expansion in the South Island with two clubs being founded in Marlborough, Blenheim City and Woodbourne, the Ashley (now Rangiora) club being founded and the Wai-iti club being founded in Timaru. Twizel prepared for entry in the 1977 competition and the Southland Rugby League was re-established.
- Coffey, John. Canterbury XIII, Christchurch, 1987.
- Coffey, John and Bernie Wood Auckland, 100 years of rugby league, 1909-2009, 2009. ISBN 978-1-86969-366-4.
- Air New Zealand Rugby League Annual 1977 New Zealand Rugby League, 1977. p.p.10-11.
- Sky Rugby League Annual '98 New Zealand Rugby League, 1998
- Air New Zealand Rugby League Annual 1977 New Zealand Rugby League, 1977. p.16.
- Air New Zealand Rugby League Annual 1977 New Zealand Rugby League, 1977. p.18.
- Lion Red Rugby League Annual 1990 New Zealand Rugby League, 1990. p.72
- Taranaki Grand Final Countdown rleague.com, 11 July 2003