Tasman Rugby Union
||This article needs to be updated. (June 2010)|
|Full name||Tasman Rugby Union|
|Ground(s)||Lansdowne Park (Capacity: 15,000)
Trafalgar Park (Capacity: 18,000)
|Coach(es)||Leon MacDonald (head coach)
Mark Hammett (assistant)
Andrew Goodman (assistant)
|Most caps||Robbie Malneek (102)|
|Top scorer||Marty Banks (618)|
|Most tries||Robbie Malneek(25)|
The Tasman Rugby Union is the governing body for rugby union at the top of the South Island in New Zealand. It is New Zealand's newest provincial union, founded in 2006 with the amalgamation of the existing Marlborough and Nelson Bays sub unions. The union's premier team is the Tasman Makos, who compete in New Zealand's provincial rugby competition, the ITM cup.
When the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) reviewed the domestic competitions in 2005, a new 14 team premier division of competition was created, as the Air New Zealand Cup, taking the place of the National Provincial Championship (NPC).
The restructured domestic competition opened the door for the Nelson Bays and Marlborough Rugby Unions to form a relationship, forming one organisation in an attempt to be awarded a position in the new competition. The Makos brand was created.
A Tasman XV played Canada 'A' on April 26, 2006 at Trafalgar Park. The Tasman side won by 40 points, the final score being 48 points to eight. The Makos were grouped in Pool A of the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup.
In their first ever match in the Air New Zealand Cup, the Makos earned a bonus point in a loss to the North Harbour team, losing 33 points to 27. They were defeated by Auckland the following week by 40 points. However, the Makos won their first match in round three, defeating Manawatu by 43 points to 0. Their only other win of the season came at home against Northland, with an impressive 56-15 win. Despite the season record of just 2 wins and 7 losses, the Makos showed the ability to compete and provided a platform to build for the future.
2007 – 2008
The 2007 season was disappointing for the Makos, finishing the season with a record of 2 wins and 8 losses. Wins came against Hawke's Bay and Manawatu, with close losses against Waikato and Canterbury.
Early on in the 2008 season, the NZRFU announced that Tasman and Northland would be relegated from the competition at the end of the season, due to failing to meet a set of criteria including financial stability. With the axe hovering over them, the Makos produced their best season yet, silencing their critics. In round 2 against Waikato, Tasman first five Miah Nikora nailed a stunning last minute drop-goal to snatch a 14-16 victory and claim the Makos first scalp over a major union. This was followed with wins over Taranaki, Northland, Manawatu and a draw against Otago to see the Makos finish the season 7th on the ladder. Facing a strong Canterbury side in the quarter-finals, the Makos went down 48-10. However, their strong season coupled with public pressure forced the NZRFU to reverse its decision and announce that Tasman and Northland would remain in the competition.
2009 – 2010
There were doubts as to whether Tasman would contest the 2009 Air New Zealand Cup, with funding issues and disagreement amongst its stakeholders on its future. However, these disputes were resolved and Tasman finished the 2009 season in 9th place with 6 wins and 7 losses, with their most memorable performance coming in round 9 against Auckland. Tasman won 12-8 in the most significant result of their short history. The Makos had come from the brink of extinction to topple the biggest union in the country.
2010 was disappointing for the Makos, finishing the season in 12th place on the ladder with just 4 wins, failing to hold on to their mid-table status achieved in the previous two seasons. However, the Makos managed to upset eventual champions and neighbours Canterbury in round 4, with a famous 27-25 victory at Trafalgar Park.
In 2011, despite just 2 wins and 14th spot, the Tasman Makos in were well received by their fans by playing a positive attacking brand of rugby that included 4 losses by 4 points or less. Famous victories were achieved against Hawkes Bay 21-19 and Auckland (again) 30-28. Shane Christie and James Marshall were selected for the New Zealand Sevens team. 2012 season This was to be their best year ever with 5 wins from 10 matches and making the semi-final of the Championship (a loss to Otago by 34 - 41). Victories included defeats of Premiership teams Canterbury 25 - 22 and Bay of Plenty 17 - 3, while Tasman went down in an epic Ranfurly Shield challenge 40 - 49 to Taranaki.
Shane Christie & Quentin MacDonald were selected to represent the Maori All Blacks for the end of year tour to the United Kingdom. Eight players earned Super Rugby contracts for 2013 (up from 3 players in 2012): Shane Christie, Jordan Taufua, Tom Marshall, Jeremy Su'a (Crusaders); Joe Wheeler, Sam Prattley (Highlanders); Quentin MacDonald, Tim Perry (Blues). Peter Betham returned to Australia to take up a Waratahs contract.
2013 season Culminating with winning the ITM Cup Championship Final, 2013 was the most remarkable season in the Tasman Makos eight years since inception. Team and personal bests have been broken at every turn.
Right from the start of planning coaches Kieran Keane and Leon MacDonald knew they were onto something special. The squad being assembled included 18 players who had previously been with the Makos and so they knew the philosophy and systems espoused by Keane & MacDonald.
There were a core of players who had ITM Cup match experience of between 30 ~ 50 games. Three of these – Quentin MacDonald, Joe Wheeler and Alex Ainley – joined the 50 Game Blazer group during the season (a select group also comprising Robbie Malneek, Jonathan Poff, Mark Bright and Andrew Goodman).
The support team has been largely intact for a number of seasons with coach Keane, manager Jenelle Strickland and sports scientist Brodie Hewlett also earning their 50 Game Blazers (joining assistant manager Brett Thornalley and physio Candace Donovan).
With such a strong core at their disposal the team embarked on the 2013 season with confidence.
Tasman has not held the Ranfurly Shield but Marlborough held the shield for six challenges in 1973.
Tasman have been involved in just two Ranfurly Shield challenges since the union's inception in 2006. Tasman lost their first challenge 26-20 at the hands of Wellington in 2008 and their second challenge 49-40 to Taranaki in 2012.
Most points and tries
Top points scorers
|1||Marty Banks||Waimea OB||630|
|2||Andrew Goodman (rugby union)||Nelson||270|
Top try scorers
|2||James Lowe||WAIMEA OB||17|
First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)