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|Waikato Rugby Union|
|League||Air New Zealand Cup|
The Waikato Rugby Union (WRU) is the official governing body of rugby union in the region of Waikato in the North Island of New Zealand. Their senior representative team are the current holders of the Air New Zealand Cup, having won the inaugural competition in 2006.
Waikato Rugby Union was founded in 1921. The senior representative team plays in the Air New Zealand Cup, replacing the premier division of the National Provincial Championship. The team play their home fixtures at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton. The union's colours are red, yellow and black.
Waikato Rugby Union was founded in 1921. The inaugural representitive match played ended in a 15-all draw against Taranaki. Waikato had its first win by their third fixture when they defeated Manuwatu 6-0. The first home match was played against New South Wales from Australia at the Claudelands Showground, losing 11 to 28. In 1925 the Rugby Park was opened, and in 1928 Waikato adopted their now famous colours of red, yellow and black.
In 1932 Waikato challenged Canterbury for the Ranfurly Shield. The challenge was unsuccessful. Waikato made another unsuccessful challenge for the shield in 1949 against Otago. In 1951 Waikato successfully challenged for the Ranfurly Shield, defeating North Auckland 6 points to 3. They defeated Auckland the following season, also 6-3 to win back the shield. In 1966 Waikato defeated Auckland again to regain the Ranfurly Shield. In 1980 Waikato won the Ranfurly Shield for the first time since 1966, defeating Auckland 7 points to 3.
Waikato became the first Union to win the National Provincial Championship (NPC) when the format included semi-final and finals structure for the 1992 season. Waikato defeated Otago 40 to 5 in the final. 1993 was also very successful for Waikato; winning back the Ranfurly Shield with a 17 to 6 victory over Auckland, and making it to the sem-finals of the NPC, only to be defeated by Otago.
Waikato defeated Taranaki 40 to 19 for a successful challenge for the Ranfurly Shield in 1996, and defeated Auckland 31 to 29 for the shield in 1997. That season they also made it to the semi-finals of the NPC, but were defeated by Counties Manukau 40 to 43. In 1998 they made it to the final of the NPC, in what was a rematch of the 1992 final, against Otago. Waikato lost the match 20 to 49. They made it to the semi-finals the next season, but were defeated by Wellington 17 to 38.
In 2002 Waikato made it to their first NPC final since the 1998 loss to Otago. Though they were defeated by Auckland, 28 to 40. They made it as far as the semi-finals in both the 2003 and the 2004 seasons, and were defeated by Wellington 29-30 and 16-28 respectively. Under the new Air New Zealand Cup format, Waikato became the first side to win the competition, defeating Wellington 37-31 in the final.
In 2007, Waikato defeated North Harbour 52-7 to regain the Ranfurly Shield. The score and winning margin is a Ranfurly Shield record for a team challenging for the Log Of Wood. However, the following week, Canterbury took the Log from the Mooloo Men 33-20.
In 1930 Waikato provided 14 of the 15 players of the combination team that played Great Britain at Rugby Park. The visitors won the match 40 to 16 in front of 13,000 people. In 1937 South Africa toured New Zealand. Five Waikato players were involved in the combined side which lost 6-3 in front of a record crowd of more than 17,000. Waikato was the first provincial Union to beat a touring South African team post World War II, defeating the Springboks 14 points to 10 in 1956. Waikato defeating another large rugby nation in 1961, with a 22 - 3 victory over France in 1961.
During the 1970s Waikato defeated numerous international sides; including a two point victory, 26 to 24, over Australia, a 13 to 7 win over Fiji and defeating France for the second time, 18 to 15. Also during the 1980s, Waikato achieved a number of notable international victories, defeating Wales, Canada and Argentina in the latter years of the decade. Waikato also completed a number of international victories during the 1990s, with wins over Canada, Australia, Western Samoa, the British Isles, Scotland and Italy.
Players past and present that have represented Waikato:
Air New Zealand Cup
|Teams||Auckland • Bay of Plenty • Canterbury • Counties Manukau • Hawke's Bay • Manawatu • North Harbour • Northland • Otago • Southland • Taranaki • Tasman • Waikato • Wellington|
|Seasons||2006 • 2007 • 2008|