Otago Rugby Football Union
|Ground(s)||Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin (Capacity: 30,748)|
Women's Provincial Championship
|2013||3rd, Championship Division|
The Otago Rugby Football Union is the official governing body of rugby union for the Otago Region of New Zealand. The union is based in the city of Dunedin, and its home ground is Forsyth Barr Stadium. The top representative team competes in the ITM Cup, New Zealand's top provincial competition. The union was to have been liquidated in March 2012. However a deal involving the Dunedin City Council allowed it to keep operating.
The union was founded in 1881, celebrating its 125th year in 2006. Since the inception of the NPC in 1976, Otago have won the competition twice, in 1991 and 1998. Furthermore, since playoffs were introduced, Otago have made the final on six occasions and the semi-finals on 11 Occasions.
In Ranfurly Shield performance, Otago have won 36 of 74 shield matches, with only Auckland and Canterbury having a better record.
Otago made two more NPC Division 1 finals since their last title in 1998, both in 2001 and 2005 finishing runners-up on both occasions.
After 2005 the NPC was revamped into the Air New Zealand Cup, which is now known as the Mitre10 Cup. Four new teams were promoted from the NPC Second Division into the Air New Zealand Cup. Otago had another season reaching the semi-finals, losing to Waikato 44–15 at Waikato Stadium.
2007 began with a 68–7 defeat to Wellington in the Capital. Otago would win five matches to reach the quarter finals where they were beaten by Canterbury 44–6 in Christchurch.
2008 saw Otago win four of their ten matches. However Otago would be the only team to defeat Wellington (36–21) during the regular season. Otago finished 10th in 2009 and Otago finish 10th once again with five wins from thirteen matches.
2010 saw a new adopted name. Otago would be known as "the Razorbacks". However Otago won two of thirteen matches and finished with the wooden spoon.
2011 would see Otago placed in the reformatted championship. 2011 was a significant year for Otago with the team playing its final season at Carisbrook before the mid-season relocation to the Forsyth Barr Stadium. Also Otago's Tony Brown would play for the Razorbacks. Otago began the season defeating North Harbour 46–29 at Carisbrook. The following week Otago created history by defeating Auckland 32–25 at Eden Park. It was Otago's first win at Eden Park since 1976. Otago started with just as many wins as they had all of the 2010 ITM Cup season. Otago would play Southland in the teams final ever game at Carisbrook, losing 19–12 to the Stags. Manawatu were supposed to be Otago's first new opponents at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. Bad weather however would postpone the game to later in the season. Otago played Canterbury in the teams' first game at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Canterbury won 29–16 in front of a crowd of 14067. Otago defeated Manawatu 28–20 to finish 3rd position in the championship.
2012 started with news that Otago had over 2 million dollars in debt. The ORU faced liquidation and having their 130 years of existence in jeopardy. However the Dunedin City Council were able to reach a deal allowing Otago to continue on. Otago would win five of ten matches and reach the Championship semi-finals where they defeated Tasman 41–34. In the Championship final Counties Manukau was too strong running out 41–16 winners.
2013 began with an opening round win over Bay of Plenty. Otago in the following week defeated Waikato 26–19 in Hamilton to claim the Ranfurly Shield. It was the first time the shield had come to Otago since 1957. Otago's shield fever was short lived as Hawkes Bay would win 20–19 over Otago the following week. Otago would go on to win four more matches including one over Auckland. Otago would reach the Championship semi-finals for the second consecutive year, however it was Hawkes Bay who were once again victorious winning 29–24. Otago finished 3rd.
On 27 February 2012, it was announced by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union that the Otago Rugby Football Union would be put into liquidation on 2 March 2012. According to the NZRFU, the negative equity held by the ORFU amounted to more than NZ$2 million. It was subsequently announced that the liquidation was to be put on hold until 16 March 2012. On 15 March 2012, a deal was struck between the union and the Dunedin City Council that allowed the union to continue operations.
Clubs within the union are split into two groups, Metro and Country. Clubs include:
- Alhambra Union RFC
- Brighton RFC
- Dunedin RFC
- Eastern RFC
- Green Island RFC
- Harbour RFC
- Kaikorai RFC
- Pirates FC
- Southern RFC
- Taieri RFC
- University RFC
- West Taieri RFC
- Zingari – Richmond RFC
- Alexandra RFC
- Clinton RFC
- Clutha RFC
- Clutha Valley RFC
- Clyde Earnscleugh RFC
- Crescent RFC
- Cromwell RFC
- Heriot RFC
- Lawrence RFC
- Maniototo RFC
- Matakanui Combined RFC
- Owaka RFC
- Roxburgh RFC
- Strath Taieri RFC
- Tapanui RFC
- Telford RFC
- Toko RFC
- Upper Clutha RFC
- Wakatipu RFC
Nicknamed the Razorbacks, the Otago team presently compete in the ITM Cup Championship Division. The 2011 season saw an improvement in Otago's performance, finishing 3rd in their division after coming last in the 2010 season. This 2012 sees a raft of changes to the squad with 15 players not being picked again this year. Some have gone into coaching roles i.e. Tony Brown into the head coaching role and Kees Meeuws appointed scrum coach. Many players were not picked due to the financial woes of the union with coaches Brown and Young having to pick mainly local club players. Coach Tony Brown however lured Japanese internationals, Shota Horie and Fumiaki Tanaka to the union. In 2013, Otago won the Ranfurly Shield by beating Waikato 26–19. It was the first time since 1957 that Otago held the national challenge trophy. They lost it again in their first defence of it, to Hawke's Bay. Otago has a Women's team in the Women's Provincial Championship, called the Otago Spirits.
First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)
Otago in Super Rugby
From the start of the Super Rugby competition in 1996, Otago was one of three unions (along with Southland and North Otago) to comprise the Highlanders, and Otago players traditionally formed the bulk of the Highlanders' playing squad.
This changed in 2010 with the move to direct-contracting for Super Rugby teams, meaning that Otago players are free to sign with any of the New Zealand-based teams. Despite this change, in the 2011 Super Rugby season all Otago players in the competition were still playing for the Highlanders. However, due to the recent struggles of Otago and an influx of players from other areas, Otago players no longer represent the majority of the Highlanders' playing personnel.
2013 Super Rugby players
- Liam Coltman (Highlanders)
- Tom Donnelly (Crusaders)
- Paul Grant (Highlanders,WTG)
- Tom Franklin (Highlanders, WTG)
- Hugh Blake (Highlanders, WTG)
- Hayden Parker (Highlanders)
- Buxton Popoali'i (Highlanders)
- Tony Ensor (Highlanders)
- Ben Smith (Highlanders)
- TJ Ioane (Highlanders)
International players (recent)
- Fumiaki Tanaka (Japan)
- Tamati Ellison (New Zealand)
- Ben Smith (New Zealand)
- Tom Donnelly (New Zealand)
- TJ Ioane (Samoa)
Records and honours
Individual and team records
- Most points: 1520 — Greg Cooper
- Most tries: 73 — Paul Cooke
- Most points in season: 279 — Greg Cooper (1991)
- Most tries in season: 16 — John Timu (1988, 1990), Paul Cooke (1995), Brendan Laney (1998)
- Most conversions in season: 50 — Greg Cooper (1988)
- Most penalty goals in season: 54 — Greg Cooper (1989)
- Most drop goals in season: 9 — Lindsay Smith (1986)
- Most points in a match: 39 — Paul Turner (1986)
- Most individual tries in a match: 5 (by four different players)
- Most conversions in a match: 14 — Paul Turner (1986)
- Most penalty goals in a match: 7 — Greg Cooper (1989, 1991), Blair Feeney (2002)
- Highest score: 91 — v East Coast (1986)
- Biggest winning margin: 85 — 88–3 v North Otago (1983)
- Biggest losing margin: 43 — 19–62 v Canterbury (2001)
- Most points against: 63 — v Auckland (1993)
- Richard Knight, 1982–92, 170 games
- David Latta, 1986–96, 161 games
- Ken Bloxham, 1974–86, 155 games
- Steve Hotton, 1983–93, 146 games
- Lindsay Clark, 1967–78, 137 games
- Gordon Macpherson, 1985–93, 137 games
- John Leslie, 1991–98, 2004, 123 games
- Greg Cooper, 1984–96, 121 games
- John Haggart, 1983–91, 119 games
- Gary Seear, 1971–82, 116 games
- Stu Forster, 1990–98, 115 games
- Laurie Mains, 1967–75, 114 games
- Wayne Graham, 1976–86, 111 games
- Arran Pene, 1988–95, 111 games
- Dean Kenny, 1981–89, 110 games
- Paul Cooke, 1990–96, 107 games
- Rob Roy, 1969–79, 106 games
- Duncan Robertson, 1966–78, 104 games
- Merv Jaffray, 1971–78, 102 games
- Tuppy Diack, 1951–64, 101 games
- John Timu, 1988–94, 101 games
- NPC/Air New Zealand Cup/ITM Cup Champions (2)
- Ranfurly Shield (4)
1935–38 (8), 1938 (5), 1947–50 (18), 1957 (1), 2013 (0)
- "ORFU to be put into liquidation". Otago Daily Times. 27 February 2012.
- "Otago rugby union buys more time for rescue". Stuff.co.nz. 9 March 2012.
- "New stadium millstone saved Otago union". Stuff.co.nz. 15 March 2012.
- "Strong core of experience in Otago squad". Otago Daily Times. 6 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.