Chiefs (rugby union)
|Union||New Zealand Rugby Union|
|Location||Hamilton, New Zealand|
|Region||Bay of Plenty|
|Ground(s)||Waikato Stadium (Capacity: 26,000)|
|Director of Rugby||Warren Gatland|
|Captain(s)||Sam Cane |
|Most caps||Liam Messam (182)|
|Top scorer||Damian McKenzie (882)|
|2021||Super Rugby Aotearoa |
Super Rugby Trans-Tasman
The Chiefs (formerly known as the Waikato Chiefs and officially called the Gallagher Chiefs for sponsorship reasons) are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Hamilton, New Zealand. The team competes in the Super Rugby competition, previously known as the Super 12 and Super 14, and are one of the competition's five New Zealand teams. Their primary home ground is Waikato Stadium.
Until 2004, the Chiefs were the only New Zealand side never to have qualified for the Super 12 semi-finals. In that year the Chiefs earned their first semi-final berth, and in the end achieved fourth place (defeated 37–20 in the semi-final by the ACT Brumbies). They subsequently reached the 2009 final, but found themselves on the short end of a record 61–17 defeat by the Bulls.
The Chiefs were rewarded with a home final after a strong 2012 season. The Chiefs defeated the Sharks 37–6, winning their first title. In 2013, the Chiefs became the fourth team to record back-to-back title wins, when they defeated the Brumbies 27–22 at Waikato Stadium.
The Chiefs were founded in 1996 as the Waikato Chiefs for the inaugural Super 12 season in 1996. Prior to the Super 12, the Super 10 competition had been in place, which NPC teams took part in, including Waikato. In the first year of competition the Chiefs placed 6th in the overall standings, missing out on making the finals; winning 6 of their 11 regular season matches. The following season the Chiefs placed 11th, winning 4 games and losing 7. In 1998 the Chiefs performed closer to the standard of their 1996 season and placed at 7th in the final standings. In 1999 the side were able to do one better and claimed 6th position on the ladder but were still yet to make the playoffs.
In 2000 the Chiefs won 3 of their regular season games and finished the regular season in 10th place. The following season the team equalled their best position again – finishing 6th. In 2002 the team won 4 games and lost 7 to finish in 8th position, and the season after, 2003 Super 12 season, fell to a 10th-place finish. But the season after, the Chiefs won 7 regular season games and came 4th on the ladder – claiming the first semi-final spot in their history. The Chiefs lost the semi-final against the Brumbies. In 2005 the team finished 6th. In 2006, the Super 12 expanded to the Super 14, with the addition of a new Australian and South African club. The Chiefs won 7 of their 13 games and drew once with 5 losses to come 7th. In 2009, the Chiefs made their second ever semi-final, defeating the Hurricanes 14 – 10 to advance to the final for the first time. They lost the final to the Bulls by the biggest-ever margin of 61–17. In the 2010 and 2011 seasons, they were unable to replicate their form of 2009, missing the playoffs in both seasons.
In 2012, following the disappointing results of previous years, the Chiefs underwent a significant change in personnel. This included the recruitment of new coaches, including Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith, and players, including Aaron Cruden, Ben Tameifuna, Brodie Retallick and Sonny Bill Williams. The changes had an immediate impact as the Chiefs finished at the top of the New Zealand conference, qualifying for a home semi-final, which they won, defeating the Crusaders 20–17. They subsequently hosted the final for the first time in the teams's history, comprehensively defeating the Sharks by 37 – 6, claiming their first title. They also set many club records in the 2012 season, including: most home wins, best home streak, best season winning streak, and most points and tries scored.
In 2013, the Chiefs again won the Super Rugby title and the New Zealand conference with a regular-season record of 12 wins and four losses. They also won the BNZ Cup, a new trophy established by the NZRU for the New Zealand side with the best record in intra-conference matches.
In 2017 the Chiefs played the British and Irish Lions side in Hamilton, losing the encounter 34-6. In the regular season, they finished 3rd in the NZ conference and 6th overall, putting them through to the playoffs. They won a thriller quarter final against the Stormers in Cape Town (17-11) but lost in the semi finals to the Crusaders (27-13)
In 2018 the Chiefs finished 3rd in the NZ conference and 5th overall. This result put them through to the quarter finals, in which they lost a tight battle against the Hurricanes (32-31)
The Chiefs didn't have a great start to the 2019 season, losing 4 games straight of the bat, including a loss to the Sunwolves (30-15). However, the Chiefs redeemed themselves by defeating the Bulls 56-20 and going on to win more. They ended up finishing 3rd in the NZ conference and 7th overall, which put them through to the quarter finals. However, the Chiefs would lose to the Jaguares 21-16 in Buenos Aires
After 7 rounds in 2020, the Chiefs were 3rd in the NZ conference and 5th overall. However, the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the 2020 Super Rugby season from going ahead, for travel and health reasons. Despite this, NZRU created a domestic Super Rugby tournament called Super Rugby Aotearoa, which started in June 2020. The Chiefs played well but didn't win a single game in Super Rugby Aotearoa 2020.
The Chiefs lost their first 2 games of Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2021, and then got their first win in the competition against the Hurricanes (35-29) and now the Chiefs are currently on a 5 game win streak, defeating the Blues (15-12), Highlanders (26-23), Crusaders (26-25) and Hurricanes (26-24) and have qualified for the final against the Crusaders.
Franchise area and ownership
From 1996 to 1998 the Chiefs also represented North Harbour and Northland, with Counties Manukau and Thames Valley falling under the Auckland Blues catchment. Had the Blues been allowed to represent the Auckland, North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Northland unions, they would have been able to field almost a full national team due to player contracting rules at the time. In an effort by the NZRU to make things more fair, the Chiefs were given North Harbour and Northland, while the Blues were given Counties Manukau and Thames Valley. By 1999, clear regional dominance of national team players no longer existed, so North Harbour and Northland were 'returned' to the Blues in exchange for Counties Manukau and Thames Valley.
The Chiefs are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZRU. However, in an effort to bring more capital into the sport, the NZRU established a system of privatised operation in 2013. In 2014, it was announced that a new entity, 'Chiefs Rugby Club Limited Partnership', had been established, with the NZRU granting the newly formed company a seven-year licence, until the end of the 2020 season, to operate the club. Chiefs Rugby Club itself is 50% owned by the provincial unions within the Chiefs' catchment and 50% by a group of private investors . As part of the Taranaki Rugby Union's investment, the Chiefs will hold two matches per year at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
|Hamilton||New Plymouth||Rotorua||Pukekohe||Mount Maunganui|
|Waikato Stadium||Yarrow Stadium||Rotorua Int'l Stadium||Navigation Homes Stadium||ASB Baypark Stadium|
|Capacity: 26,000||Capacity: 26,000||Capacity: 26,000||Capacity: 12,000||Capacity: 19,800|
The Chiefs have fielded a development team in competitions such as the Pacific Rugby Cup and in matches against other representative teams for several seasons. Known as the Chiefs Development XV, the squad is selected from the best emerging rugby talent in the Chiefs catchment area and is composed of Chiefs contracted players, wider training group members, under 20s, and selected club players.
Records and achievements
Super Rugby placings
|Super Rugby Results|
|2004||11||7||0||4||274||251||+23||5||33||4th||Lost semi-final to Brumbies|
|2009||13||9||0||4||338||236||+102||9||45||2nd||Lost final to Bulls|
|2012||16||12||0||4||444||358||+86||8||64||1st||Defeated Sharks in final|
|2013||16||12||0||4||458||364||+94||10||66||1st||Defeated Brumbies in final|
|2014||16||8||2||6||384||378||+6||8||44||5th||Lost qualifier to Brumbies|
|2015||16||10||0||6||372||299||+73||8||48||5th||Lost qualifier to Highlanders|
|2016||15||11||0||4||491||341||+150||7||51||6th||Lost semifinal to Hurricanes|
|2017||15||12||1||2||433||292||+141||7||51||6th||Lost semifinal to Crusaders|
|2018||16||11||0||5||463||368||+95||5||49||5th||Lost quarterfinal to Hurricanes|
|2019||16||7||2||7||451||465||−14||4||36||7th||Lost quarterfinal to Jaguares|
Results per opposition
Chiefs Super Rugby results vs different opponents 
|Updated to: 2 May 2022|
Super Rugby (1996–present)
- Champions (2)
- Runners-up (1)
- Playoffs Appearances (8)
Brisbane Global Tens
- Champions (1)
|Chiefs Super Rugby squad|
First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)
|(cc) Denotes team co-captains, Bold denotes internationally capped, WTS denotes a wider training squad player, ST denotes a short-term signing, denotes a player ruled out for the season with injury. |
Current coaches and management
- Regan Hall
- Mark Roberts
Former coaches and captains
|Updated to: 13 June 2021|
- Richard Turner (1996)
- Ian Jones (1997)
- Errol Brain (1998)
- Michael Collins (1999)
- Glenn Taylor (2000)
- Deon Muir (2001–2002)
- Jono Gibbes (2002–2008)
- Mils Muliaina (2008–2011)
- Liam Messam (2011–2015)
- Craig Clarke (2012–2013)
- Aaron Cruden (2014–2017)
- Brodie Retallick (2014, 2019)
- Sam Cane (2016–present)
- Charlie Ngatai (2018)
- Brad Weber (2021–present)
The Chiefs Women's team (known as the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa for sponsorship reasons) competes in Super Rugby Aupiki, after it was announced that a 15-a-side New Zealand women's rugby competition was to be played from 2021 and beyond. The team had previously competed in a one off match against the Blues in May 2021. The team is currently coached by Allan Bunting.
|Chiefs Super Rugby Aupiki squad|
First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)
|(cc) Denotes team co-captains, Bold denotes internationally capped, SP denotes a shadow player and ST indicated short-term cover. |
- "2012 Super Rugby end of season awards - Sanzar". super.rugby. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
- "Chiefs have field day in harpooning Wales for historic victory". Stuff. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
- "Canes hopeful of tempting Taranaki's finest". Stuff. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
- Chiefs to play Blues in New Plymouth after Taranaki switch
- Burnes, Campbell (23 May 2014). "Rugby: Blues side offer an ideal stern challenge for Juniors". NZ Herald. Archived from the original on 23 May 2014.
- "Blues XV v Chiefs Development". Getty Images. 13 March 2007.
- "Gallagher Chiefs squad announced for 2022" (Press release). Chiefs. 21 November 2021. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
- "Gallagher Chiefs named to face Crusaders in rematch of 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa Final" (Press release). Chiefs. 9 March 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
- "Gallagher Chiefs named to face Moana Pasifika at Mt Smart Stadium" (Press release). Chiefs. 17 March 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
- "Gallagher Chiefs welcome crowds back to FMG Stadium Waikato, team named to face Crusaders" (Press release). Chiefs. 23 March 2022. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
- "Team named to face Waratahs in Super Round Melbourne" (Press release). Chiefs. 20 April 2022. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
- "Gallagher Chiefs eye up vital win at home" (Press release). Chiefs. 19 May 2022. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
- "Clayton McMillan appointed as interim head coach for 2021 Gallagher Chiefs" (Press release). 28 February 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- "Green light for Super Rugby Aupiki". allblacks.com. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
- "First Waitomo Chiefs Women's squad announced". NZ Herald. 14 April 2021. Archived from the original on 13 November 2021. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
- "Super Rugby: Rotorua's Allan Bunting named head coach of Chiefs Women". NZ Herald. 6 October 2021. Archived from the original on 6 October 2021. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
- "2022 Chiefs Women's Squad announced | Chiefs Rugby". Chiefs. 3 November 2021. Archived from the original on 3 November 2021. Retrieved 13 November 2021.