Taranaki Rugby Football Union

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Taranaki Rugby Football Union
Logo Taranaki Rugby Union.svg
Nickname(s) Amber and Blacks
Founded 1885; 130 years ago (1885)
Region Chiefs
Ground(s) Yarrow Stadium (Capacity: 25,000)
Coach(es) Colin Cooper
Captain(s) Kane Barrett
League(s) ITM Cup
Champions (2014)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Taranaki Rugby Football Union (TRFU) is the governing body of Rugby in the New Zealand province of Taranaki. The main stadium is Taranaki Stadium which is in the main centre of New Plymouth. Taranaki plays in the annual ITM Cup in which it also competes for the Ranfurly shield. Before 2006 the team competed in the National Provincial Championship (NPC).

On 25 October 2014 Taranaki won their first ITM Cup, defeating Tasman 36–32 in New Plymouth. This was the first time a team from outside the main population centres had won the premier New Zealand domestic rugby competition since Manawatu in 1980. Taranaki has won the NPC second division more than any other Union in New Zealand, a record that the club will keep now the NPC is defunct. Taranaki also plays for the Ryan Wheeler memorial trophy, a trophy played for annually with the Waikato Rugby Union.

In 2013, Taranaki changed its Super Rugby allegiance to the Chiefs, after severing ties with the Hurricanes, which it had been part of since 1996.


The justification for marking the year 1885 as the Formation of the Taranaki Rugby Union is based not on the fact that the Union itself was created then, but because 1885 marked the first occasion on which Taranaki placed a touring team in the field, the Union was not actually established until 1889.

On 31 May 1889 the Hawera club convened a meeting at Hawera, of delegates from the Hawera, Waimate (Manaia), New Plymouth, Okaiawa, and Eltham clubs. This meeting agreed to form the Taranaki union. During the year Stratford and Midhirst clubs united as Manganui club, Tikorangi and Waitara clubs combined as Clifton club, and Inglewood and New Plymouth Star clubs were (among others) founded and became part of the union. By the turn of the century, Taranaki RFU had produced 11 All Blacks, six of whom toured Great Britain in 1905. In 1956 they held the South African tourists to a 3–3 draw.

Match Centurions[edit]

Across Taranaki rugby history 32 players have now played 100 or more matches for the Taranaki union.

The 32 players and the details are:

Career Span Matches
Career Span Matches
Career Span Matches
M. Allen 1988–96 110 I. Flavell 1956–65 105 R. Fraser 1973–82 107
K. Barrett 1986–99 167 A. Gardiner 1966–75 102 K. Hurley 1959–71 120
R. Brown 1953–68 144 D. Loveridge 1974–86 135 I. MacDonald 1956–66 121
W. Bunn 1979–89 109 S. McDonald 1991–98, 2000 116 J. McEldowney 1967, 1969–80 125
P. Burke 1948–59 117 P. Martin 1967, 1970–79 125 G. Mourie 1975–82 104
C. Cooper 1979–87 100 D. Murfitt 1984–85 1987–93 106 F. O'Carroll 1973–83 128
K. Crowley 1980–94 200 T. O'Sullivan 1955–59 1961–66 104 B. Robins 1980–92 147
I. Eliason 1964–81 223 A. Slater 1989–2001 180 G. Slater 1991–95 1997–2005 176
R. Elmes 1980–82 1984–89 103 L. Thomson 1983–85 1987–91 104 J. Thwaites 1969–81 120
K. Eynon 1991–95 1999–2000 103 P. Tito 1998–2006 100 M. Watts 1978–85 123
M. Wills 1962–72 131 T. Penn 1999–2009 103
  • The primary source for this table is the official Taranaki web-site. It is worth noting that the basis of these figures is matches recognised by the Taranaki Union and not its parent body the NZ union. Two players have significant differences between the NZ union recognised figures and the Taranaki figures. Firstly, Ian Eliason's NZRFU recognised figure is 222 which gives him a share of the NZ record of most matches for a union while the Taranki figure includes a non-first class match which takes the figure to 223 which would give him the record outright. Kieran Crowley played in that same non-first class match and thus the NZRFU recognise just 199 of his matches as being first class.

Major Sponsors[edit]

The Major Sponsors for the Taranaki Rugby Team are:

  • Canterbury
  • Tui
  • SHUK

Principal Sponsor[edit]

  • Port Taranaki[1]


Amber and Black hoops with white shorts. Jerseys are made by Canterbury.


The Amber Army[edit]

The Amber Army is a chanting group formed in 2011, the year Taranaki won and defended the Ranfurly Shield. The Amber Army's motivation is to bring fans to the Northern Hill and chant the Amber and Blacks' to victory.[2] TRFU have one mascot represented in two forms. Ferdinand the Bull is a mechanical bull that is driven around the stadium at home games. "Ferdie" is dressed in a giant Taranaki kit and can be entered through the side. Ferdinand is also represented with a costume.

Club Rugby[edit]

Taranaki senior grade club rugby has a number of different divisions, with Premier, Division 1,Division 2, Division 3 and Under 20. The Premier and Division 1 competitions involve a seeded first round competition and a round-robin second round with both teams playing at the same venue. The Division 2 and 3 and U20 competitions are organised differently. The top 6 teams in U20 compete for their title.

Club finals day sees all 6 titles decided at Yarrow Stadium, along with the U13 title. The clubs also organise junior teams for age groups from Under 6 to Under 13 competing in the Ferdie Rugby competitions.

A number of amalgamations have taken place in recent years and created merged clubs at Senior levels though some of these clubs have retained teams in lower grades under their own identities. Also New Plymouth Boys' High School and Francis Douglas Memorial College supply teams that compete in the U20 competition. FDMC's 1st XV and NPBHS' 2nd XV compete in this grade. NPBHS's 1st XV formerly competed in this grade as well but in recent years have chosen to focus on their college fixtures.


Current clubs and 2013 teams are (2013 teams listed – champions in Bold):

  • Bell Block RFC – Senior 3rds
  • Border RFC – Senior 3rds
  • Clifton RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Coastal RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Eltham/Kaponga RFC – Senior B, Senior 3rds
  • Kaitake RFC – No 2013 teams
  • Inglewood RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • New Plymouth Old Boys RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Okaiawa RFC – Senior 3rds
  • Spotswood United RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds
  • Southern RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Stratford RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Colts Under 21's
  • Toko RFC – Senior 3rds
  • Tukapa RFC – Senior A, Senior B, Senior 3rds, Colts Under 21's
  • Whangamomona RFC – No 2013 teams
  • Francis Douglas Memorial College – Colts Under 21's
  • New Plymouth Boys' High School – Colts Under 21's

For historical purposes the merged clubs are:

  • Spotswood United RFC – Merger of the Spotswood College Old Boys and Star clubs
  • Coastal RFC – Merger of the Okato, Rahotu and Opunake clubs
  • Eltham/Kaponga RFC – Merger of the Eltham and Kaponga clubs
  • Southern RFC – Merger of the Hawera, Hawera Athletic and Waimate clubs
  • Border RFC – Merger of the Patea and Waverley clubs

Rugby at Secondary school level is organised by the TRFU via the Taranaki Secondary Schools Sports Association. The competition grades are Premier 1, Premier 2, Premier 3, U15 across 4 divisions (also open to players U16 and under 65 kg) and Girls The schools that participate in these grades are:

Central includes players from the Eltham and Kaponga areas that may no longer attend school but are eligible to play due to their age. It also includes players who travel through to either NPBHS, FDMC or Hawera HS for their schooling but wish to continue playing for the area. Coastal is an amalgamation of the two schools in the area and operates in the same manner.


Referee's play a major part in all rugby. The Taranaki Rugby Referee's Association (TRRA) is affiliated to the TRFU and provides referees for matches at all levels from high school, to the TRFU Premier competition. The TRRA has the backing of sponsor Farmlands, which came on board at the beginning of 2012. The Referee's Association has a brilliant support group from active and non-active referees to referee coaches and executive members and hold weekly meetings and training sessions during the season. The TRRA annually names a Top 5 panel based on performances during the season and is named close to the conclusion of the premier club season.

Top 5 for 2015

  • 1) Paul Williams (NZRU National Squad)
  • 2) Cameron Stone (NZRU National Squad)
  • 3) Richard Kelly (NZRU National Squad/IRB Sevens Referee)
  • 4) William Johnston
  • 5) Max O'Leary

Williams moved up to the number one spot after being ranked second last year with Kelly moving down to third place. Stone in turn moved up a spot as a result. All of these referees will be involved in the 2015 ITM Cup season as referees.

Both Johnston and O'Leary maintained the same positions from last year.

These Top 5 referees are involved as Assistant Referees and Substitution Controllers at local ITM Cup, Super Rugby and International matches at Yarrow Stadium. They are also involved in local development and age-group representative matches as NZRU have given most of the representative appointments back to the local provinces.

Current squad[edit]

The Taranaki squad for the 2015 ITM Cup.[3]





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.

Awards (Amber and Black Awards)[edit]

2014 Amber & Black Awards.

Notable players (current and former players)[edit]

Taranaki All Blacks[edit]

Current All Blacks

Former All Blacks

  • Harold Abbott – 1905–06
  • Lewis Allen – 1896–1901
  • Mark Allen – 1993–97
  • Beauden Barrett – 2012–present
  • Alfred Bayly – 1893–97
  • Walter Bayly – 1894
  • George Beatty – 1950
  • Roger Boon – 1960
  • Noel Bowden – 1952
  • Kevin Briscoe – 1959–64
  • James Broadhurst – 2015
  • Charlie Brown – 1913–20
  • Handley Brown – 1924–26
  • Ross Brown – 1955–62
  • Peter Burke – 1951–57
  • Mick Cain – 1913–14
  • Don Cameron – 1908
  • Ray Clarke – 1932
  • Maurice Cockerill – 1951
  • Arthur Collins – 1932–34
  • John Colman – 1907–08
  • Kieran Crowley – 1983–91
  • Bill Currey – 1968
  • Henry Dewar – 1913
  • Jason Eaton – 2005–06
  • Ian Eliason – 1972–73
  • Richard Fogarty – 1921
  • Ashley Gardiner – 1974
  • Francis Glasgow – 1905–08
  • William Glenn – 1904–06
  • Alan Good – 1893
  • Hugh Good – 1894
  • Augustine Hart – 1924–25
  • Percy Hickey – 1922
  • Jarrad Hoeata – 2011
  • Andrew Hore – 2002–12
  • Daniel Hughes – 1894
  • Arthur Humphries – 1897–1903
  • James Hunter – 1905–08
  • David Johnston – 1925
  • Charles Kingstone – 1921
  • Alfred Kivell – 1929
  • James Lambie – 1893–94
  • David Loveridge – 1978–85
  • George Loveridge – 1913–14
  • John McCullough – 1959
  • John McEldowney – 1976–77
  • John Major – 1963–67
  • Chris Masoe – 2005–06
  • Frederick Masters – 1922
  • Hugh Mills – 1897
  • Graham Mourie – 1976–82
  • Brian Muller – 1967–71
  • Harry Mynott – 1905–10
  • Waisake Naholo – 2015– present
  • Charlie Ngatai – 2015
  • Bernard O'Dowda – 1901
  • James O'Sullivan – 1905–07
  • Terrence O'Sullivan – 1960–62
  • Richard Roberts – 1913–14
  • Bryce Robins – 1985
  • Roy Roper – 1949–50
  • Alistair Scown – 1972–73
  • Gordon Slater – 1997–2000
  • Alan Smith – 1967–70
  • Leonard Stohr – 1910–13
  • John Sullivan – 1936–38
  • Reginald Taylor – 1913
  • Roger Urbahn – 1959–60
  • Scott Waldrom – 2008
  • John Walter – 1925
  • Edward Ward – 1928
  • James Watson – 1896
  • Murray Watts – 1979–80
  • William Wells – 1897
  • Alfred West – 1920–25
  • Murray Wills – 1967
  • Thomas Wolfe – 1961–68

All Black captains[edit]

Reuben Thorne is the fourth old boy from New Plymouth Boys' High School to captain the All Blacks in a test match. Just one school, Southland Boys High School has produced more – with six.

New Plymouth's four have been:

Year Tests
Alan Reid 1957 2 Tests
John Graham 1964 3 Tests
Graham Mourie 1977–82 19 Tests
Reuben Thorne 2001 22 Tests

The Dean Cup[edit]

This picture shows the 1907 Strathmore Dean Cup side, which defeated Whangamomona to become the first holder of the Dean Cup.

The Dean Cup is believed to be the oldest competition trophy still being played for in the sport of Rugby Union. Played for between three rural Taranaki clubs, Strathmore, Whangamomona and Toko, it was originally presented by Mrs Athalinda Dean in 1906 for a cricket match, however due to poor playing conditions this was cancelled and a rugby match began the tradition in 1907.

In 2003 when Whangamomona challenged Strathmore for the cup and the game was played at Yarrow Stadium on 19 April as a curtain raiser to the Hurricanes Vs Highlanders Super 12 match. Strathmore were victorious, on this occasion, holding on to defended the cup and winning 17–16 in front of a capacity crowd. This is the first time that the Dean Cup has been played for outside of the Eastern Districts.


  1. ^ Mclean, Glen. "Port has Taranaki's back for 2015". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Rilkoff, Matt (2 July 2011). "Andy aims for Amber Army". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "2015 Port Taranaki Bulls ITM Cup Squad Announced". Taranaki Rugby. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 

External links[edit]