Central Vikings Rugby Union

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Central Vikings Rugby Union
Central Vikings rugby logo.jpg
Nickname(s)The Vikings
RegionHawke's Bay
Ground(s)McLean Park
Palmerston North Showgrounds
Coach(es)Frank Oliver
Captain(s)Bull Allen
Most capsOrcades Crawford
Tom Deighton (26)
Top scorerJarrod Cunningham (382)
Most triesRoger Randle (16)

Central Vikings Rugby Union was a New Zealand rugby union team that played in two seasons of the NPC from 1997-1998. The team featured current and future All Blacks, as well as a former All Black in coach Frank Oliver. With the announcement that New Zealand might receive a 6th Super Franchise in the SANZAR Super Rugby competition beginning 2016, the Hawke's Bay union has announced its interest in forming this franchise together with Manawatu therefore effectively resurrecting the Central Vikings brand as a Super Rugby franchise, although this never came to fruition and instead the expansion consisted of the Southern Kings, the Argentina based Jaguares and the Japan based Sunwolves.


The Central Vikings Rugby Union was founded in December 1996 with the merger of the Hawke's Bay and Manawatu unions. The Vikings were formed with the hopes of lifting themselves out of the 2nd division and to be competitive in the 1st division. The Central Vikings had two All Blacks in the team which included Bull Allen and Christian Cullen as well as featuring various Super 12 players such as Chiefs star Mark Ranby who later became an All Black himself. The Central Vikings finished 2nd in 1997 when they were beaten 63–10 by Northland but even if they had won, they weren't allowed to progress into the 1st division. They finished 1st in 1998 when they beat the then Nelson Bays team, now part of Tasman Makos. They were subsequently allowed to progress to the 1st division. The Vikings however got into financial trouble and they split back to Hawke's Bay and Manawatu for the 1999 season.

The Vikings were largely hindered in their second season after not only losing All Black legend Christian Cullen but also losing the then All Blacks Coach John Hart after Hart was advised he could not coach NPC, Super Rugby and All Black teams at the same time. Despite of these disadvantages the Vikings went on to win the second division and were picked to be a major force in the first division before financial problems prevented them from advancing and ultimately caused the end of the Vikings.


In December 1997 a special meeting of the Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union was held to decide the future of the Central Vikings Rugby Union. Eight of the Hawke's Bay Union's 21 clubs called the meeting to seek agreement for Hawke's Bay to withdraw from the Vikings. A vote on a resolution calling for Hawke's Bay to withdraw from the combined Hawke's Bay–Manawatu team was lost, 7–12, in a secret ballot. Once the resolution was lost, HBRFU president Tom Mulligan said there was no reason for the meeting to continue. The Vikings were then given the all-clear to continue as an NPC second division rugby team.


1997 Season[edit]

The Central Vikings played their first match against Fiji in Palmerston North on June 2, 1997.

Date Comp Home team Score Away team Score
02-05-97 PS Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 10 Fiji Fiji 19
06-08-97 PS Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 38 Wellington Lions colours.png Wellington 21
23-08-97 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 72 Thamesvalley.png Thames Valley 0
30-08-97 NPC Whanganuicolors.png Wanganui 6 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 42
06-09-97 NPC Kcountry.png King Country 35 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 41
13-09-97 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 90 Nelsonbays.png Nelson Bays 21
20-09-97 NPC Scantab.png South Canterbury 7 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 87
26-09-97 NPC NLTaniwha.png Northland 42 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 13
03-10-97 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 10 Bopcolours.png Bay of Plenty 31
11-10-97 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 95 Wbush.png Wairarapa Bush 12
19-10-97 NPC Bopcolours.png Bay of Plenty 6 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 29 Semi final
25-10-97 NPC NLTaniwha.png Northland 63 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 10 Final
  • Note - PS = Pre Season, NPC = National Provincial Championship
  • Overall Season standing: 2nd

1998 Season[edit]

Former Manawatu rugby captain and All Black trialist Andrew McMaster returned from Ireland, where he had four years coaching the Monkstown club, to join the Central Vikings as the new Vikings assistant coach. The Central Vikings had a non-championship match against Southland on 1 August 1998. Southland only just managed to hold on to the game, although they scored five tries to the Vikings two. Southland 31 (P Taylor 2, P Alatini, B Leckner, P Miller tries; A Kimura 3 cons)

Central Vikings 29 (A Powdrell, D Bellamy tries; J Cunningham 2 cons, 5 pens). Halftime 19-13 to Southland.

Date Comp Home team Score Away team Score
01-07-98 PS Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 30 ManawatuTurbosColours.png New Zealand Marist XV 29
01-08-98 PS Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 29 SouthlandRugby.png Southland 31
22-08-98 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 79 Wbush.png Wairarapa Bush 12
29-08-98 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 43 MarlboroughRU.png Marlborough 11
05-09-98 NPC Thamesvalley.png Thames Valley 5 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 52
12-09-98 NPC Nelsonbays.png Nelson Bays 18 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 34
19-09-98 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 25 Whanganuicolors.png Wanganui 12
26-09-98 NPC Wbush.png Wairarapa Bush 3 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 55
03-10-98 NPC Bopcolours.png Bay of Plenty 19 Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 37
10-10-98 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 29 Kcountry.png King Country 8
17-10-98 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 23 Kcountry.png King Country 20 Semi final
24-11-98 NPC Centralvikings.png Central Vikings 33 Bopcolours.png Bay of Plenty 18 Final
  • Note - PS = Pre Season, NPC = National Provincial Championship
  • Overall Season standing: 1st



  • Frank Oliver - 1997–98 (Coach)
  • Andrew McMaster - 1998 (Assistant Coach)
  • Mark Shaw - 1999 (Coach)

Frank Oliver was the coach of the Central Vikings in the two seasons they played in the second division of the NPC 1997–98. In 1998 former Manawatu rugby captain and All Black trialist Andrew McMaster joined the Central Vikings as the Assistant coach, after four years of coaching the Monkstown club in Ireland. Former All Black and Manawatu flanker Mark Shaw was set to replace Frank Oliver as the head coach of the Central Vikings, however the Vikings split before playing in the 1999 season so Shaw did not coach them through the season.


  • Lowe Walker (originally signed a three-year contract, however they left the Vikings during 1998)
  • Lion Red