Manawatu Rugby Union

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Manawatu Rugby Union
Founded 1886
Region Hurricanes
Ground(s) Arena Manawatu (Capacity: 18,000)
League(s) ITM Cup
2012 6th
Official website

Manawatu Rugby Football Union (MRU) is the governing body of the sport of Rugby union in the Manawatu rugby province. The Union is based in the city of Palmerston North but has a catchment area from nearby towns in the province, including Ashhurst, Feilding, Rongotea, Linton, Bulls, Pahiatua, Woodville and Dannevirke.

Founded in 1886, the Manawatu Rugby Union is one of New Zealand's oldest. In 1892, the MRU and other Rugby Unions were instrumental in the founding of the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU).

The Manawatu Rugby Union has over 5,000 players, making it the tenth largest union in New Zealand in terms of player numbers.[1] In 2011, the union celebrated its 125th Jubilee.

Manawatu have traditionally played in a distinctive green and white tramline jersey, although in 1996, a jersey including red was worn. In 1997–98 Manawatu entered into an amalgamation with Hawke's Bay, as the Central Vikings, and wore orange and blue. See History.

The Union's home ground is Arena Manawatu, which has been formerly known as the Palmerston North Showgrounds, FMG Stadium and Arena One. It was host to two matches of the Rugby World Cup 2011.

Palmerston North is the home of the New Zealand Rugby Museum[2] and also the Massey University Sport and Rugby Institute.[3]

Manawatu Turbos[edit]

Manawatu Turbos
Union Manawatu Rugby Union
Founded 2006
Location Manawatu-Wanganui
Region Manawatu, New Zealand
Ground(s) Arena Manawatu (Capacity: 18,000)
Coach(es) Jason O'Halloran, Jeremy Cotter
Captain(s) Callum Gibbins
League(s) ITM Cup Championship.
2015 7th, Relegated to Championship
Team kit
Official website

The Manawatu Turbos are the premier men's rugby team in the Manawatu rugby province. In 2005, Manawatu were invited (with four other unions, reduced to 3 after an amalgamation) to play in the first division of a restructured NPC first division, later called the Air New Zealand Cup (now known as the ITM Cup). As well as propelling Manawatu into professional rugby, it was also the first time since 1988 the top grade rugby competition would feature a team from the province.

Manawatu Turbos have a reputation for fielding young, local talent. This has served mixed results however this approach has also uncovered new exciting players who have made Super Rugby level and also the All Blacks.[4]

ITM Cup New Format[edit]

The ITM Cup underwent a necessary format change to accommodate the limited window of availability of competition play before the Rugby World Cup, which divided the competition of 14 team into two pools of 7. The Premiership (Top 7) and Championship (Bottom 7). There was no change to the other competition, the Heartland Championship. As Manawatu finished 13th of 14 in 2010, the team were placed in the Championship in 2011. In 2011, Manawatu went through the season unbeaten at home and a few losses, finishing the top of the Championship. The final at home against Hawke's Bay ended in a disappointing 30–35 loss, leaving Manawatu in the Championship and Hawke's Bay promoted to the Premiership for the 2012 season.

The 2012 season began with key players missing due to injury or other duties. Due to the departure of previous coach Dave Rennie (to the Chiefs Super Rugby), Jason O'Halloran was promoted to head coach. Some highlights in a season that had its ups and downs included the first away win against North Harbour and a big win at home against Hawke's Bay. The mixed success and failure from results from the other teams in the Championship saw an unusual proposition. The last game against Southland saw an opportunity for either team to make the post-season of the Championship, provided other results were favourable. A late try to Southland ended Manawatu's season. Southland later made the semi-finals. Manawatu finished the season with 3 wins and 7 losses, 6th in the Championship. Manawatu remain in the Championship for 2013.

After making the Premiership for 2015 by beating Hawkes Bay in the 2014 Championship final, the Turbos finished bottom of the Premiership, therefore relegated to the Championship again for 2016.

For Manawatu Turbos' previous Air New Zealand/ITM Cup seasons see:

Current squad[edit]

The Turbos squad for the 2015 ITM Cup.[5]





Loose forwards

Halfbacks (Scrum-halves)

First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)


Midfielders (Centres)

Outside Backs

Captain Denotes team captain, Injury icon 2.svg Denotes that a player is unavailable due to injury, Bold denotes player is internationally capped.

Club Rugby[edit]

There are 10 club teams which play at Senior A level. They are:

Club Name Colours From
High School Old Boys-Marist (OBM) Black, White & Green hoops Palmerston North
College Old Boys (COB) White, Maroon, Gold & Black Palmerston North
Freyberg Blue & Yellow hoops Milson, Palmerston North
Kia Toa Light Blue & Dark Blue Awapuni/Highbury, Palmerston North
Varsity Sky Blue Massey University, Palmerston North
Feilding (Feilding Yellows) Yellow & Black Feilding
Feilding Old Boys-Oroua (FOB-O) Black, White, Red & Blue Feilding and Kimbolton
×Dannevirke Black and Gold Dannevirke
Linton Army Red & Black Linton Military Camp
Te Kawau Emerald Green & Black Rongotea

‡ High School Old Boys-Marist is an amalgamation of High School Old Boys and Marist Rugby Clubs

† Feilding Old Boys-Oroua is an amalgamation of the Feilding Old Boys and Oroua Rugby Clubs

× Dannevirke Sports Club was formerly affiliated with Hawke's Bay, however in 2007, it switched its affiliation to Manawatu.[6]

Other clubs include:

Club Name Colours From
Ashhurst-Pohangina Green and Gold Ashhurst
Bunnythorpe Maroon, Gold and Black Bunnythorpe
Bulls Black Bulls
Halcombe Black and Red Halcombe
° Bush Sports Red and Blue Pahiatua

° Junior level only is played in Manawatu; Senior level has returned to Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union[7]

Manawatu in Super Rugby[edit]

Manawatu is in the Hurricanes catchment area, along with Wanganui, Hawke's Bay, Poverty Bay, East Coast, Horowhenua Kapiti, Wairarapa-Bush and Wellington.

In 2012, there were no Manawatu players in the Hurricanes squad. In 2014, Chris Eves, Callum Gibbins and Nehe Milner-Skudder were part of the wider training group, occasionally seeing game time. In 2015, Callum Gibbins, Chris Eves and Nehe Milner-Skudder were called into the full squad, being the first from Manawatu since Aaron Cruden. Otere Black was called in to cover an injured Beauden Barrett at first five- eighth/flyhalf.

Manawatu Players who have played for the Hurricanes:

  • Callum Gibbins
  • Chris Eves
  • Nehe Milner-Skudder
  • Otere Black

In recent times, Manawatu have provided a few players to the Highlanders and the Chiefs.

Manawatu Players who have played for the Highlanders:

Manawatu Players who have played for the Chiefs:

In 2009, Arena Manawatu was the venue for a Highlanders home game against the Bulls from Northern Transvaal.

Women's Rugby: Manawatu Cyclones[edit]

Manawatu Cyclones
Union Manawatu Rugby Union
Location Manawatu-Wanganui
Ground(s) FMG Stadium (Capacity: 18,000)

John Kendal

Stu Ross
Captain(s) Sarah Goss
League(s) Women's Provincial Championship
2012 5th
Team kit
Official website

Manawatu Cyclones is the women's representative team. The Cyclones wear the same green and white tramline jersey design as the men's team.

Women's Provincial Championship[edit]

In 2005, the team was promoted from the Second Division. In 2006, however, Manawatu did not win a game in the competition, which saw the team play against the likes of Auckland, Wellington and Otago. Manawatu drew with Hawke's Bay.

In 2012, the Women's Provincial Championship format was a full round robin of six teams playing six rounds (each team with one bye round). The Cyclones began with a bye. Wins for the Cyclones were over Waikato, Wellington and Hawke's Bay. Unfortunately large losses to Otago and eventual finalists Auckland and Canterbury and missing crucial bonus points, meant the Cyclones did not make the post-season.

Notable Cyclones:


  • Selica Winiata
  • Sarah Goss


  • Farah Palmer

Rebecca Mahoney


NPC & Ranfurly Shield[edit]

This proud union, which at its best combines bullocking forwards from the outlying country areas, with the speedy backs from the Varsity club, has produced several outstanding All Blacks and has achieved notable success on the national rugby stage.

1970s: Glory Days and Shield Era

The period from 1976 to 1983 saw Manawatu as a powerhouse in New Zealand rugby, achieving outstanding success. One of the great Ranfurly Shield reigns (1976–78) was followed by an historic National Provincial Championship (NPC) victory in 1980.

Manawatu was also NPC Runner-up in 1976 and 1981. These lofty heights placed a heavy burden on Manawatu sides in the future, who failed to live up to this 'once in a generation' success of the Graham Hamer coached teams of 1976 to 1983.

In the final Ranfurly Shield challenge of 1978 Manawatu were leading North Auckland (now called Northland) 10–9 with time up on the clock. A record Ranfurly Shield reign seemed possible, as the team headed into the 1979 season and beyond with one of the most powerful teams in the country, one that was notoriously tough to beat at 'The Oval', where all shield defences would be played.

Inexplicably, the referee played 5–6 minutes of 'injury' time before awarding the visitors a penalty close to the posts. They duly kicked it and took the shield north. The referee then required a police escort off 'The Showgrounds Oval' as Manawatu fans showed their disgust and disappointment.

This highly controversial moment was a bitter end to Manawatu's impressive run with the shield. To Manawatu supporters at the time, there was no clear or acceptable explanation for the referee's actions that day, and none have surfaced since.

There were several conspiracy theories with the most notable involving the Auckland Rugby Union (ARU). They had a legitimate request for a challenge in 1977 controversially denied by the Manawatu union who argued that Auckland had had 'too much influence in shield rugby for too long'.

The ARU would not be confident of a challenge in 1979 against Manawatu but would 'probably' get one against a victorious North Auckland. In the end Auckland got their wish; North Auckland won, and Auckland easily took the shield off their neighbours in the following season. Interestingly, they denied Manawatu a challenge in 1980.


In 1980, its championship winning season, Manawatu had no less than eight All Blacks, an impressive number even by today's standards.

They were: Mark Donaldson, Mark 'Cowboy' Shaw (who earned his living at various meat works around the city), Geoff Old, Frank Oliver, Gary Knight, Doug Rollerson, Lachie Cameron and an 18-year-old PNBHS schoolboy named Craig Wickes (a substitute in the final minutes against Fiji at Eden Park).

Manawatu remained one of the most feared and powerful unions in the country until the 1984 season when standards slipped considerably. So respected were Manawatu that the great Canterbury Ranfurly Shield team of 1983 put Manawatu last on their list of challengers for that season. Auckland and Wellington were considered easier options, which is hard to fathom these days.

In 1985, Manawatu celebrated a centenary of club competition and in 1986, the union's centenary.

In 1988, the union was relegated to the second division for the first time and spent a lengthy time playing against other struggling unions.

Once an attractive option in its glory days for notable players such as Frank Oliver, Manawatu in the second division was reduced to a 'feeder' role, effectively developing players for other unions.[8]


In 1996 Manawatu and Hawke's Bay merged their teams to form the Central Vikings Rugby Union. It was an attempt to elevate the unions back to the then first division. Players such as Mark Allen, Christian Cullen, Mark Ranby, Stephen Bachop and Roger Randle featured in the team. The 1997 season saw Central finish overall second with 6 wins, 2 losses and into the semi-finals. In the semi-final, the Vikings avenged their loss to Bay of Plenty in round robin play to face Northland in the final. Northland won the final 63–10. Northland were thus promoted to the First Division. However, had the Vikings won, they would not have been eligible to be promoted.

1998 saw a repeat of form for the Vikings who went unbeaten in the season. They subsequently won the final against Bay of Plenty and were promoted to First Division. However, due to financial issues, the merger split back to Manawatu and Hawke's Bay. Manawatu returned in 1999 to the second division set back by the financial issues from the Central Vikings days.


Manawatu began the new millennium firmly fixed in the second tier competition.

In 2005, Manawatu fell to a woeful 6–109 defeat by the touring British and Irish Lions at Palmerston North. The outlook for the future of rugby in Manawatu at the time, was not promising. However, in the same year, a rugby lifeline was handed to Manawatu with the invitation to return to the top level in a revamped NPC.

The promotion to the top level in 2006 provided hope for greater things to Manawatu rugby and has restored respect and dignity to the green and white jersey. Crowd support for the new venture has been among the highest of all unions in the competition. Although recent results suggest the union has a long way to go to get back to the glory days it once enjoyed, the selection of Aaron Cruden in 2010 for the All Blacks showed the country, supporters and local aspiring players they do not need to move elsewhere to chase the All Black dream. He was the first All Black chosen whilst playing for the union since Christian Cullen in 1996.[9] In 2012, Cruden was joined by Turbos teammate, Aaron Smith. The addition of Smith meant for the first time since 1986, two All Blacks came from Manawatu. Lately (as of 2012) more players from Manawatu have been selected for Super Rugby teams.


Fans of Manawatu rugby are known throughout the rugby community in New Zealand for their habit of wearing plastic garden buckets cut to shape over their heads during matches. As such, fans of the provincial side have picked up the self-named nickname of "Bucketheads".[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

"Go, Go Manawatu!" as the huge sign would read, lofted high above the Palmerston North Showgrounds Oval by a crane, summed up the optimism and confidence that existed during the heyday of Manawatu rugby.[citation needed]

Match highlights over the years[edit]

  • Beating Otago, Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury, amongst other unions, between the years of 1976 to 1983.
  • Beating Auckland 12–10 at Eden Park in 1976 to win the coveted Log 'o Wood for the first time, followed by a homecoming parade through the city streets. Doug Rollerson's dropped goal secured the famous victory for Manawatu.
  • With prop Kent Lambert sent-off, Manawatu were reduced to 14-men in their defence of the Ranfurly Shield against Counties side in 1977. However, the green and whites rallied to record a victory, 15–10. A last minute try prevented the confident Counties side from taking the Shield back to Pukekohe for the first time.
  • A 20–10 win over Australia in 1978.
  • One of Manawatu's most memorable matches was the 1981 encounter against South Africa. Manawatu led 9–4 at halftime and with minutes to go the score was 19–19. The clash between the national champions and the 'test' strength Springboks was headed for a climax worthy of such an event. In the final analysis, Naas Botha was the difference between the two sides. In the final minutes he scored a long range penalty, a dropped goal and a sideline conversion to lead the 'Boks home to a flattering 31–19 victory. The Manawatu v Springbok game was the first to witness the infamous police riot squads patrolling the streets as a pre-emptive measure, as opposed to them just turning up once trouble started. Either way, both the police and the public/protesters were generally well behaved that day, despite the barbed wire, the bitterness, and the repressive police presence.
  • Lee Stensness starred in a 58–24 win over Ireland in 1992.
  • In 2011, a resurgent Manawatu Turbos side defeated the Wellington Lions 31–25 in Wellington. It was Manawatu's first competition win over Wellington in the capital, after 124 years of trying.
  • Also in 2011, Manawatu Turbos scored 54 points against Waikato team at FMG Stadium. The Turbos led 35–17 at halftime, eventually winning 54–20. This kept the Turbos unbeaten at home for the season.
  • In 2012, Manawatu scored its first victory away to North Harbour. The win at home against Hawke's Bay made Manawatu one of the few Championship teams to beat a Premiership team.

Theme Songs[edit]

Manawatu had two theme songs during their 'glory' years, which were played on radio '2ZA' in the days leading up to the big games on Saturday. They were:

  • A Ranfurly Shield theme song 1976–78 (sung to the melody of the American civil war song When Johnny Comes Marching Home): "We're Manawatu, we've got the shield huh rah, huh rah!..."
  • A later song (early 1980s) was used prior to NPC and Ranfurly Shield challenges: "We'll pass the ball and run it, green and white! And let them feel the power of country might!..."
  • A much earlier song, On The Ball, was sung at Manawatu games during its foundation years and beyond. According to Manawatu rugby historian, Clive Akers, it was composed in Palmerston North by team captain Ted Secker and was 'made famous by the 1888 Native team that toured Britain'. Akers said further 'it would rate as Manawatu's greatest contribution to the rugby world'. Its chorus went: "On the Ball! On the Ball! On the Ball! Thro' scrummage, three-quarters and all, sticking together we keep on the leather, and shout as we go, On the Ball!"[citation needed]


[25] [26] [27]

Played 100 matches for Manawatu[edit]

Name Years Games
Gary Knight 1975–1986 145
Ken Granger 1971–1984 128
Geoff Old 1975–1985 117
Murray Rosenbrook 1979–1986 111
Mark Donaldson 1974–1985 110
Bruce Hemara 1978–1990 108
Kevin Eveleigh 1969–1978 107
Perry Harris 1970–1979 106
Don McCaskie 1956–1967 101
Rob Foreman 2006–2014 100

Manawatu All Blacks[edit]

In New Zealand, to be selected to the All Blacks is the pinnacle of achievement. In its 126-year history, Manawatu have produced many players who have been selected for the national team.

Player Name All Black Number Years Total matches (tests) Club Nickname About
Mark Allen No. 933 1993–97 27 (8) Massey University "Bull" A 'cult hero' and loosehead prop, he is more associated with his home province of Taranaki, from where he made his All Black debut.

However, in 1997, he moved to Manawatu, where he captained the Manawatu/Hawkes Bay Central Vikings. It was from this position that he played his one and only test match as a starting player (against England at Twickenham – his last test).

Keith Bagley No. 548 1953–54 20 (0) Kia Toa retired at aged 23 to his family farm.
Robert (Bob) Burgess No. 690 1971–73 30 (7) Massey University Debuted for the All Blacks against the 1971 Lions. He was a stand out player in this series before being injured in the 3rd test which ended his season.

Toured Britain in 1972/73 before retiring in 1973. An anti-apartheid activist, Burgess declined consideration for the 1970 tour to South Africa and campaigned against the 1981 tour by the Springboks.

John Callesen No. 727 1974–76 18 (4) High School Old Boys ♦ Second rower whose career was ended by back problems. Went back to the farm after excelling for both Manawatu and the All Blacks.
Lachlan Cameron No. 796 1979–81 17 (5) Massey University Lachie An exciting midfielder from the Varsity club. In 1981 he played in the dramatic 3rd Test versus the Springboks at Eden Park.
Alphonsus Carroll No. 217 1920 8 (0) Jackeytown ♣ "Phonse" A dairy farmer, he played his first game of rugby at aged 22 in 1917. Toured Australia in 1920. Politically 'left of centre' he was a 'conscientious objector' during World War One. Switched codes to Rugby league in 1925 and represented the Kiwis.
Sam Cockroft No. 21 1893 12 (0) Palmerston ♣ Played only one season in Manawatu.[28]
Aaron Cruden #1105 2010– current College Old Boys First Five-Eight, made his All Black debut on 10 June 2010 against Ireland in New Plymouth. Cancer survivor and son of former Manawatu forward Stu Cruden.[9]
Christian Cullen No. 952 1996–2002 60 (58) Kia Toa "Paekakariki Express" One of world rugby's most talented and entertaining fullbacks of any era. Was a Wellingtonian for most of his All Black career. Shot to stardom at the 1996 Hong Kong Sevens.
Chresten Davis No. 958 1996 2 (0) Massey University. "Chester"
Mark Donaldson No. 781 1977–81 35 (13) High School Old Boys♦ "Bullet" An inspiration to Manawatu rugby. Later coached an exciting and youthful Manawatu side in the early-90s.

In 1981, in his last touch of the ball in All Black rugby, Donaldson took a quick-thinking tap on a free kick late in the series-deciding test against South Africa. This play was instrumental in setting up Alan Hewson's famous last-minute penalty goal.[1]

Kevin Eveleigh No. 740 1974–77 30 (4) Feilding "Hayburner" Voted Rugby News' 'All Black player of the tour', to South Africa, 1976.
Brian Finlay No. 596 1959 1 (1) Marist ♦ Debuted at aged 31. His only test against the 1959 Lions, the famous 1st test where Don Clarke's six penalty goals gave New Zealand an 18–17 win. Finlay was badly injured early but returned to the field after treatment. Due to injury was not considered for the remainder of the series.
Jack Finlay No. 455 1946 1 (1) Feilding Old Boys ♦ World War Two shortened his potential All Black career.
Mark Finlay No. 856 1984 2 (0) High School Old Boys ♦ ex PNBHS 1st XV star who toured Fiji.
William Freebairn No. 554 1953–54 14 (0) Feilding "Stewie" Feilding Agricultural High School.
Ken Granger No. 755 1976 6 (0) Freyberg Old Boys "Gringo" Manawatu stalwart who retired after a record 128 games for the province. An outstanding 1976 season earned him a winger's position on the end of year tour to Argentina. He was given the nickname 'Gringo' on this tour.
Perry Harris No. 751 1976 4 (1) Te Kawau Called into the injury hit All Black tour party in South Africa, two days after Manawatu's historic Ranfurly Shield win at Eden Park, in 1976. Played the 3rd test of that tour.
Bruce Hemara No. 859 1985 3 (0) Freyberg Old Boys Manawatu Player of the Year 1983, NZ Māori representative. With All Black hooking incumbent, Andy Dalton, unavailable for the All Blacks' tour to Argentina in 1985, Hemara was his natural replacement.

In 1986, Dalton was away with the New Zealand Cavaliers in South Africa which allowed Hemara to win selection for the All Blacks in the first test against France. Injury prevented Hemara from making his much deserved test debut and Sean Fitzpatrick took his place. Later, Hemara became assistant coach of the Turbos (2006–10).

Ron Horsley No. 610 1960–64 3 (0) Kia Toa "Honest Ron" Made his All Black debut playing for Wellington. The imposing lock forward captained Manawatu in 1962 before coaching Kia Toa.
Gary Knight No. 782 1977–86 66 (36) High School Old Boys ♦ "Axle" The lyric "Let them feel the power of country might" was surely written with him in mind. Famously hit by a flour bomb dropped by a protest aircraft vs South Africa at Eden Park in 1981. Won the New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year trophy in 1981.
Kent Lambert No. 718 1972–77 40 (11) Massey University Formidable prop forward. Went to Penrith Panthers in the NSWRL, 1978. Was one of the first All Blacks to publicly complain about the financial burden of amateur rugby. Was a truck driver during his playing days. Injury cut short his league career.
Arthur Law No. 319 1925 4 (0) High School Old Boys ♦ A farmer, he was a star for the PNBHS 1st XV for several seasons.
John Loveday No. 787 1978 7 (0) High School Old Boys ♦ A chiropractor by trade, he ironically suffered from a 'bad back' which limited his appearances on his one and only All Black tour: the victorious Grand Slam of 1978. He was a pivotal member of the Ranfurly Shield side in the 1970s but in 1979 he retired from rugby to concentrate on his medical career.
Rod McKenzie No. 403 1934–38 35 (9) Kia Toa "Squire"
Alex McMinn No. 114 1904 1 (1) College St Old Boys ♣ Paddy His Irish father was sent out to New Zealand by a London newspaper to cover the 'Māori wars' in Taranaki in 1963 and later established the Manawatu Evening Standard. Paddy's younger brother 'Archie' was also an All Black.
Archibald McMinn No. 102 1903–05 10 (2) Institute ♣ Archie An imposing line-out specialist with the pace of a wing three-quarter. A fishmonger who died in 1919 aged 38.
John Mowlem No. 37 1893 4 (0) Palmerston ♣
Mick O'Callaghan No. 676 1968 3 (3) Massey University A winger and crowd favourite, played for Manawatu until the 1979 season.
Geoff Old No. 817 1980–83 17 (3) High School Old Boys ♦ A police officer, he was on active duty during the 1981 Springbok tour together with playing in the series deciding test at Eden Park, won 25–22 by the All Blacks.
Frank Oliver No. 750 1976–81 43 (17) Marist ♦ "Filth" A welcome recruit from Southland in 1979, one year after being a member of the All Blacks historic Grand Slam winning tour of the UK and Ireland. An integral part of the 1980 NPC winning side. Selected on the centenary tour of Wales in late 1980.
Doug Rollerson No. 758 1976–81 24 (8) Massey University In 1980 he was player of the season in Manawatu's championship winning team and in the same year he starred on the All Blacks centenary tour to Wales. His dropped goal, which creaked over the bar against the Springboks in the dramatic 3rd Test in 1981, helped the All Blacks win this memorable series.

Shocked NZ rugby when he announced he was leaving for the North Sydney Bears in the NSWRL for the 1982 season. His subsequent professional rugby league career was considered unsuccessful, persistent injuries didn't help.

Kevin Schuler No. 904 1989–95 13 (4) Massey University "Herb"
Mark Shaw No. 810 1980–86 69 (30) Kia Toa "Cowboy" A meat worker by trade; Longburn Freezing Works. Would cycle home along Palmerston North's College Street on his ten-speed bike, while joking with the kids running alongside him (one of which was the author).

Remembered fondly as a hero and a genuine inspiration to all Manawatu rugby fans.

Graham Shannon No. 31 1893 6 (0) Marton ♥
Aaron Smith #1112 2012– current Feilding "Nugget" Became the All Black's first choice halfback in 2013.
Sam Strahan No. 657 1967–73 45 (17) Oroua ♦ Imposing second rower, formed a formidable combination with John Calleson.
Craig Wickes No. 821 1980 1 (0) Palmerston North Boys' High School At aged 18 years, 196 days this schoolboy winger was the 2nd youngest All Black ever, behind 17-year-old Lui Paewai in 1923. A series of knee injuries, sustained in 1981, destroyed his chance of playing for the All Blacks again and limited his provincial and club rugby future as well.

Bold = indicates current player

♦ = indicates a club recently amalgamated with another

♥ = indicates a club no longer in the Manawatu Rugby Union

♣ = a club no longer extant

All Blacks formerly from Manawatu[edit]

Player Name All Black Number Years Total matches (tests) Club when at Manawatu About
John Buxton No. 573 1955 2 (2)
Graham Delamore No. 493 1949 9 (1) represented Manawatu 1943–44.
Keith Gudsell No. 500 1949 6 (0) Massey University
Jason Eaton #1063 2005–09 17 (17) Feilding Manawatu (2002–03); Moved to Taranaki before making All Black debut.
Jason Hewett No. 914 1991 1 (1) Massey University Manawatu (1988–90). He was recruited into the Auckland NPC side midway through 1990. He made his All Black debut at the 1991 World Cup.
John Hotop No. 540 1952 3 (3)
Brian Molloy No. 588 1957 5 (0)
Dick Myers No. 779 1977 5 (1) Massey University
Bob Oliphant No. 45 1893 3 (0)
Syd Orchard No. 61 1896 8 (0)
Mark Ranby #1001 2001 1 (1) Moved to Waikato before becoming an All Black.
Keith Reid No. 365 1929 5 (2)
Lee Stensness No. 932 1993–97 14 (8) Played his last game for Manawatu in 1992, before moving to Auckland. The following year he made a fine All Black debut, in the deciding test against the Lions at Eden Park, which the All Blacks won 30–13.

Stensness looked to have a long and distinguished career in the number 12 jersey for the All Blacks ahead of him. However, injury and loss of form meant he played just eight tests.

Bob Stuart No. 510 1949–54 27 (7) played 4 matches for Manawatu in 1941.
Kel Tremain No. 604 1959–68 38 (27) Played 6 games for Manawatu in 1958[29]
Wilson Whineray No. 585 1957–65 77 (32) Played for Manawatu in 1955 before leaving for Canterbury.
Murray Watts No. 793 1979–80 13 (5) A Manawatu junior All Black who moved back to Taranaki before becoming an All Black.
Dion Waller #1011 2001 3 (1) Marist Played the 1997 and 1998 seasons with Manawatu and the Central Vikings before becoming an All Black with Wellington.

Other distinguished current and former players[edit]

  • Kurt Baker – moved to Taranaki; plays Super Rugby for Highlanders.
  • Josh Bradnock – Foundation Turbo – Fearless Openside Flanker and Captain of Manawatu Turbos 60+ Games, Varsity legend, Hurricanes player who would have played many Super games if career was not lost to multiple tendon injuries.
  • Hugh Blair – 1970s winger, Ranfurly Shield hero and crowd favourite, from the Varsity Club of Massey University. Instantly recoqnisable with his long blond hair, headband and beard. Went on to lecture at Auckland University.
  • Francisco Bosch (Rugby union) – (2006–08) Foundation Turbo. Represented Argentina for tests vs Chile, Japan, Samoa and South Africa in 2004–05. Also a former Sevens player for Argentina.
  • Denis Clare – hooker during the Ranfurly Shield and National Championship winning era.
  • Nick Crosswell – (2006–14) Foundation Turbo; Captain (2009–13); played Super Rugby for Chiefs (2013–15) having also played previously for Highlanders.
  • Ma'afu Fia (2009– ) current Turbo; plays Super Rugby for Highlanders.
  • Michael FitzGerald (2010–14) Turbo; played Super Rugby for Chiefs
  • Alan Innes – from the early Hamer years.
  • Andrew MacMaster – Represented the NZ Combined Services. An exciting winger who transferred to Manawatu's Ohakea Air Force Base in 1984. Prior to this he starred for Canterbury during their memorable Ranfurly Shield era (1982–85).
  • Hadleigh Parkes (2010). Relocated to Auckland; plays Super Rugby (2013–) for Southern Kings (South Africa).
  • Terry Sole – Loose forward during the early, and most successful, Hamer years.
  • Alex Tatana – Midfielder – Hamer years, early to mid-1980s.
  • Andre Taylor – Fullback/wing – Former Turbo, moved to Taranaki; plays Super Rugby for Hurricanes.
  • Hayden Triggs – Lock – Has represented the Māori All Blacks. He played Super Rugby for the Hurricanes and Highlanders. He played in Japan before returning to the Blues and North Harbour. 50+ Games for Manawatu.
  • Ian Wood – Midfielder who came close to All Black selection in 1985–86. Considered unlucky not to have been selected for cancelled 1985 tour of South Africa and subsequent replacement tour to Argentina.


  • Mark Donaldson – was coach of the impressive young side of the early 1990s. A team which promised so much to a union desperate for a return to prominence on the national stage.
  • Graham Hamer – coached the famous Ranfurly Shield and National Championship winning teams of the 1970s and 80s.
  • Frank Oliver – 1995–96.
  • Dave Rennie (2005–11) Foundation Manawatu Turbos coach. Left at the end of 2011 season to become 2012 coach of Chiefs. The Chiefs subsequently won back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.
  • Jason O'Halloran (2011–2015). Assistant and successor of Dave Rennie. Coach of the ITM Cup Championship winning team of 2014 leading to promotion to the ITM Cup Premiership in 2015. Will leave at end of the season.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Manawatu Rugby Shirts". Retrieved 16 February 2008. 
  2. ^ New Zealand Rugby Museum. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
  3. ^ Massey University Sport and Rugby Institute. Retrieved 17 January 2007
  4. ^ Manawatu Rugby Union. "at the heart of New Zealand provincial rugby". Manawatu Rugby. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Turbos announce 2015 squad". Turbos Rugby. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Manawatu Rugby Union. "at the heart of New Zealand provincial rugby". Manawatu Rugby. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Bush Senior Rugby". Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Manawatu Rugby Union. "at the heart of New Zealand provincial rugby". Manawatu Rugby. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Manawatu Turbos. "Manawatu Turbos | 2011 ITM Cup". Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  10. ^ George Heagney (27 August 2013). "Bucketheads may be missing from stands". Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Manawatu's bucketheads make their presence known at Eden Park | Rugby Union | Photo". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "Bucketheads show support during Turbos game". 7 August 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  13. ^ Mathew Grocott (30 June 2011). "Buckethead leader sought for fan group". Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  14. ^ News, Rugby (30 August 2010). "Bucketheads to make history". RugbyNews. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  15. ^ " – O/T Manawatu Bucketheads". 4 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "Bucketheads to wear red and yellow – National News". TVNZ. 28 September 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Manawatu – Rugby News". TVNZ. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "2011 ITM Cup Preview – Manawatu | – official site of the All Blacks". 6 July 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "Rugby in British Columbia, Canada". Bc Rugby News. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  21. ^ "Palmerston North – Home of the Bucket Heads". RugbyGuides. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Manawatu too much for Northland – Story – 3 Sport". 3 News. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "Turbos finish strongly – Headlines – Rugby Union". 24 October 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Harbour smashed by devastating Manawatu – Yahoo!7". 24 October 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "New Zealand All Blacks rugby team official website, New Zealand Rugby Football Union". Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  26. ^ Manawatu Rugby Union. "at the heart of New Zealand provincial rugby". Manawatu Rugby. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  27. ^ Acknowledgement to Clive Akers from the NZ Rugby Museum
  28. ^ "New Zealand All Blacks rugby team official website, New Zealand Rugby Football Union". 1 January 1955. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  29. ^ "New Zealand All Blacks rugby team official website, New Zealand Rugby Football Union". Retrieved 19 January 2013. 

External links[edit]