Bay of Plenty Steamers
|Governing Body||Bay of Plenty Rugby Union|
|Head Coach||Clayton McMillan|
|Latest Placing||4th Championship (2015)|
The Bay of Plenty Steamers are the top representative team under the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union in New Zealand. They have competed in the ITM Cup since 2006. They have a total of 21 All Blacks, the latest being Nathan Harris in 2014. They are coached by Clayton McMillan.
First five-eighths (Fly-halves)
Bay of Plenty were the inaugural winners of the NPC in 1976.
Bay of Plenty-based players were amongst the most prominent in the formative years of the game, but it was not until 1911 that the Bay of Plenty union was fully affiliated to the national body. Up until this time the BOP union was included within the South Auckland union boundaries. The union achieved its first national representation when A.L. McLean was selected for the All Blacks in 1921. McLean was the first of 16 men who have represented New Zealand while wearing the blue and gold hoops, Sam Cane is the latest to represent the Steamers at international level, making his debut against Ireland in 2012. As a heartland of Maori rugby the region has produced a large number of Maori All Blacks.
Bay of Plenty and major matches
Bay of Plenty has a proud history of rising to the occasion for major matches, on many occasions, often as part of combined teams in the first half of the 20th century, the Bay has pushed touring teams to the limit in memorable encounters that have ranked as the toughest provincial matches on tour. Although often gallant in defeat the Bay has also recorded some memorable victories over stronger opposition – the 1982 Wallabies were thrashed by 40–16 in Rotorua a week after having defeated the All Blacks, and again in 1990 the same nation was lowered 12–4.
Bay of Plenty has also challenged many times for the Ranfurly Shield. In 2004 Bay of Plenty won the Ranfurly Shield over Auckland 33–28 at Eden Park to win it for the first time. They would defend it against Waikato 26–20 at Mt Maunganui before losing it two weeks later to Canterbury 26–33. A year later Bay of Plenty would challenge Canterbury in Christchurch, however Bay of Plenty lost 13–40. The last time Bay of Plenty challenged for the Ranfurly Shield was on 19 September 2015, resulting in a narrow 23–17 defeat to Hawke's Bay.
Bay of Plenty also has distinction of being the first side to ever win the NPC when it triumphed in 1976. From the heights of '76 came the depths of 1977 with relegation to the second division, but came straight back up the following year. Fortunes fluctuated until 1991 when defeat by King Country sent the Bay back to Division II where it remained until the 2000 season. The Steamers defeated second division rivals Nelson Bays in a titanic final at the Tauranga Domain in late October 2000, and returned to the top division for the first time in ten years.
Bay of Plenty began the 2001 NPC division 1 season with an upset win over the defending champions Wellington 14–11 in the Capital. Bay of Plenty would only win one more came that season defending Counties Manukau in Tauranga. They would play second division winners Hawkes Bay in a promotion/relegation match winning 32–12 in Rotorua.
The 2002 season was a roller coaster ride for the Steamers, as they would only win one match beating Southland 24–11 in Tauranga. Again Bay of Plenty would play Hawke's Bay in a promotion/relegation match at the Rotorua International Stadium. Bay of Plenty won 37–21 to stay in the NPC Division 1 for 2003.
The following two years were some of the best years for the Steamers since 1976. The team finished 5th in '03 and the season included wins over North Harbour, Northland, Southland, Taranaki, and the first win over Auckland in 23 years. '04 was even better – with an historic Ranfurly Shield challenge and victory over Auckland in Round 1 of the Air NZ NPC- the first time in their 103-year history that the Bay have held NZ rugby's most prized trophy. A successful defence against Waikato saw a huge crowd at Mount Maunganui's Blue Chip Stadium, before Canterbury finally wrestled the Shield away in an epic battle which went right down to the final whistle when Grant McQuoid was millimetres away from securing a draw. All remaining games though were won home and away, securing a semi-final against Canterbury, this time at Jade Stadium against a full opposition. Canterbury were too strong, but against public expectation, Bay of Plenty's 3rd-place finish in the Air NZ NPC capped off an amazing year and saw several Bay players achieve Super Rugby selection.
2005 wasn't quite the success that 2004 was. A highlight was hosting the first match in the DHL NZ Lions Series at Rotorua on 4 June. The Bay came back from a 17–0 deficit to go in at halftime level. The lack of games prior to this match however took its toll, with the Lions going on to win 34–20. The 2005 Air NZ NPC was an up and down affair resulting in wins over Taranaki, Waikato and Northland- and some close run losses to Southland and Wellington and a final position of 8th on the table.
Air New Zealand/ITM Cup
In 2006 the national provincial competition was revamped. Four Second Division teams would be promoted to the Air New Zealand cup. Bay of Plenty would reach the quarter-finals losing to Auckland 45–14 at Eden Park.
2007 was a dreadful year for the Steamers winning only one match and finishing 13th.
2008 was a better year for the Steamers winning their first four matches and finishing 4th. They hosted the quarter finals where they lost to Southland 45–11 at Mt Maunganui.
2009 began like 2008 with the Steamers winning their first four matches. They would win against significant opposition including Wellington, Waikato and Canterbury, However disappointing losses to North Harbour, Otago and Taranaki would see the Steamers finish 7th. The quarter finals were scrapped from 2009.
Bay of Plenty would have mixed results in 2010. They would win seven of thirteen matches including a rare win in Wellington. Disappointing losses to Tasman and Northland would see Bay of Plenty finish in 6th position.
In 2011 Bay of Plenty competed in the new reformatted ITM Cup Premiership. It was also Bay of Plenty's rugby centenary year. Bay of Plenty would have significant wins over Waikato (36–8), Wellington (32–0) and Canterbury (35–31) to see the Steamers finish 4th. However, due to the 2011 Rugby World Cup the semi-finals were scrapped.
2012 was a disappointing year for the Steamers as they would win three from ten matches and narrowly survive relegation to the championship. The highlight of the Steamers season was defeating Auckland 37–16 in Rotorua to win the new John Drake Memorial Trophy, since its existence from 2009, celebrating the late life of rugby great John Drake. It was Bay of Plenty's first win over Auckland in eight years and the Steamers biggest win against Auckland.
The ghosts of 2007 would repeat for the steamers in 2013. They would win only won match and were relegated to the Championship for 2014.
Bay of Plenty would only win two matches against North Harbour and Otago in 2014 and finish last in the Championship.
Built in 2000, opened in 2001 and formerly known as Bluechip stadium, Baypark stadium is a muiti-purpose stadium that the Steamers along with Rotorua International Stadium. It has a capacity of 19,800, which was almost attained when Bay of Plenty had the Ranfurly Shield run of 2004.
Rotorua International Stadium
With a capacity of 34,000, Rotorua International Stadium is one of the larger stadiums in New Zealand, but doesn't get the matches that will draw the crowds. It is one of the two stadiums that the Steamers use as a home field, with many considering it the home of Bay of Plenty Rugby. It is also known as "The Hangi Pit", because of the mud-pools around Rotorua.
|National Provincial Championship||Air New Zealand Cup|
The Steamers have been unlucky at times with the Ranfurly Shield. However, 2004 saw this changed when the Bay successfully lifted the 'Log' from Auckland on 15 August.
|Year won||Against||Successful Defences||Lost to||Year lost|
- "Rugby: Bay Of Plenty name Mitre 10 Cup squad". The New Zealand Herald. 23 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- "Bay of Plenty Steamers 2016 Player Profiles". BOP Rugby. Retrieved 16 August 2016.