Auckland rugby union team

Auckland
UnionAuckland Rugby Football Union
Founded1883; 135 years ago (1883)
RegionBlues
Ground(s)Eden Park (Capacity: 50,000)
Coach(es)Alama Ieremia
Captain(s)Patrick Tuipulotu
League(s)Mitre 10 Cup
20176th
Team kit
Official website
aucklandrugby.co.nz

Auckland are the top representative rugby union team of the Auckland Rugby Football Union in New Zealand. They currently compete in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership. Auckland has been the most successful team in NPC and its successors, winning the title a record 16 times. Auckland have also produced a record number of All Blacks, 181, the most recent being Akira Ioane in 2017. Auckland are currently coached by Alama Ieremia.

History

The Auckland team of 1875

Auckland has been the most successful union in New Zealand rugby history, having won a record 16 ITM Cup (and predecessor competition) titles. Auckland also holds the record for the most Ranfurly Shield wins (16), successful defences (148), and longest streak of successful defences (61). All Blacks statistics also reveal the extent of Auckland's influence: of the 1071 players to have worn the national jersey from 1888 to 2008, 133 were born in Auckland, compared to Christchurch (74), Wellington (60) and Dunedin (53).[citation needed]

Golden eras

There have been many notable eras in the team's history. They were undefeated for six seasons from 1897, and there was a ground breaking run in the early 1920s under Sir Vincent Meredith.

The 1960–63 period, known as the Golden Era, was summed up in The Golden Years written by Don Cameron in 1983. Sir Wilson Whineray, who captained Auckland through those years, describes the period as one of "excitement, drama and fervor that transformed Eden Park into an oasis of magic during the winters of 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963."

There was also a relatively undisturbed spell of success from 1982 through to the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup victory. Auckland won 16 of the 26 Air NZ NPC titles available in that time – a period that included 61 Ranfurly Shield defences.

Ranfurly Shield years

Photo of a group of rugby players posing in their uniforms
The Auckland side that defeated the visiting British Isles team in 1904. Gallaher is standing in the back row on the far left.

Auckland were the first holders of the shield in 1902 and have won 153 out of 194 shield matches up to 2007 – the most successful record of any provincial union. Since 1902 there have been three notable shield eras: from 1905 to 1913 there were 23 challenges repelled, another 25 between 1960 and 1963, and 61 challenges in the period from 1985 to 1993. Players like Andy Haden, Sean Fitzpatrick, John Drake, Olo Brown, Zinzan and Robin Brooke, Gary and Alan Whetton, Michael Jones, Steve McDowall, Grant Fox, Bernie McCahill,Grant Dickson, Mark Carter, Joe Stanley, John Kirwan and Terry Wright were important in Auckland's success in the 1980s and 90s.

With six titles in the 1990s, and four so far in the new century, Auckland's success continued. The 2007 team was the first since the 1990 side to remain unbeaten in a season and win the Ranfurly Shield and the provincial championship. Players like Kees Meeuws, Keven Mealamu, Ali Williams, Justin Collins, Xavier Rush, Steve Devine, Brad Mika, Ben Atiga, Doug Howlett, Daniel Braid, Brent Ward and Angus Macdonald have contributed to this success.

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