The Blues (formerly known as the Auckland Blues until 2000) are a professional rugby union team based in Auckland , New Zealand who play in the Super Rugby competition. Like New Zealand's four other Super Rugby regional franchises, the Blues were established by the NZRU in 1996. One of the most successful teams in Super Rugby history, the Blues won the competition in each of its first two seasons, 1996 and 1997, and again in 2003. Additionally, the team were finalists in 1998 and semi-finalists in 2007 and 2011. The team is captained by Jerome Kaino and coached by Tana Umaga .

History


Formation and Early Years (1994-97)

-Along with New Zealand's other Super Rugby sides, the Blues were established by the NZRU to take part in the newly formed Super 12 competition which, involved teams from South Africa and Australia in addition to New Zealand. Each of New Zealand's five sides represented a number of provincial unions, with the Blues representing the Auckland, Counties Manukau and Thames Valley unions, while the neighbouring Waikato Chiefs representing the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, King Country, Northland and North Harbour unions. As the amount of international representatives in the Auckland region was thought to be unfair, it was split up between The Blues and The Chiefs. During this era, the Blues played the majority of their home matches at Eden Park , with round robin fixtures occasionally held at Growers Stadium in Pukekohe .The Blues tasted immediate success, winning the Super 12 back-to-back in 1996 and 1997. In 1996 the side won eight of eleven round robin matches and finished the regular season in second place (behind the Queensland Reds on 41 points. They then went on to defeat Northern Transvaaal, now the Bulls, 48-11 in the semi-final at Eden Park . This result secured a home final, where the Blues comfortably defeated the Rut Sharks (Currie Cup) 45-21. In 1997, the side improved on their previous season, comfortably topping the table with 50 points after going undefeated in the regular season, the sole blemish on an otherwise perfect season being a draw with Northern Transvaal in a re-match of the previous season's semi-final. The Blues once again easily won their semi-final, defeating the Rut Sharks (Currie Cup) 55-36 at Eden Park and again securing a home final. The 1997 final was a more hard fought encounter than the previous year's, with the Blues defeating the ACT Brumbies 23-7.

Middle Years (1998-2005)

By the end of the 1990s the number of international representatives from the Blues region had decreased. This led the Blues and the Chiefs to arrange a swap, where the Chiefs would represent the Thames Valley and Counties Manukau provincial unions in exchange for the Blues representing the Northland and North Harbour unions in addition to Auckland. Although in the seasons leading up to the trade North Harbour and Northland had outperformed Counties Manukau and Thames Valley in provincial rugby (thus potentially widening the already sizeable gap between the Blues' and Chiefs' on-field performance), it enabled both teams to represent unions in closer geographical proximity. Because of this trade, the Blues lost the area colloquially referred to as South Auckland , (excluding those portions of the South Auckland to the north of Manurewa ). Thus, the Blues traded a portion of South Auckland for the Northern portion of the Auckland region and Northland, and still do not represent the entire Auckland region. Generally supporters in the South Auckland region identify as Blues supporters even though they are technically in the Chiefs region. In 2000 all of New Zealand's Super 12 franchises dropped the leading province identifiers from their official names and became truly regional. The 1998 season saw the Blues again top the points table with 43 points at the conclusion of the round robin, with nine wins and two losses to their credit. They defeated the Otago Highlanders by 37-31 in the side's third consecutive home semi-final, securing a home final against the Crusaders, a match which promised a great deal due to Auckland's traditional sporting rivalry with Canterbury. The Crusaders ultimately won the match by 20-13, putting an end to the Blues' dominance of the competition. From 1999 - 2002 the Blues' onfield performance was poor, missing the playoffs every season, finishing at an all-time low of 11th on the ladder in 2001 with just four wins for the season. The club was able to turn its from around in the 2003 season, topping the ladder with 49 points and 10 wins from 11 matches. The team went on to defeat the ACT Brumbies by 42-21 in the semi-final, before beating the Crusaders 21-17 in the final for the franchise's third Super Rugby title. The Blues were unable to follow their 2003 success up in 2004 and 2005 however, missing the playoffs in both seasons.

Super 14 Era (2006-10)

The expanded 14 team competition couldn't have started worse for the Blues, who were in 2006 forced by the NZRU to include North Harbour captain Rua Tipoki in their squad of 24 players who are 'protected' from the draft. Tipoki was originally to be excluded from the draft due to personal circumstances to stay in Auckland. Andrew Mehrtens had in the past done this with the Crusaders. The NZRU however forced coach David Nucifora to pick Tipoki in his 24-man squad and hence drop another player. It is believed the NZRU was in favour of dropping players such as Isa Nacewa who are ineligible to play for the All Blacks . Instead, Nucifora excluded All Black Isaia Toeava , who subsequently played for the Hurricanes in 2006. Following the draft fiasco, and the forgettable season which followed, the Blues showed signs of resurgence in 2007, finishing the round robin in fourth place, securing a semi-final against the Sharks in Durban. The travel and form of the opposition were too difficult to overcome, however, with the Blues losing to the eventual runners-up by 34 - 18. The 2008 season, the final under coach David Nucifora , saw the team finish the season with an 8 - 5 record and a sixth-place finish on the ladder. In 2009, Pat Lam was appointed as coach, however the team was not able to make significant improvements under his leadership for the remainder of Super 14, missing the playoffs in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Super Rugby Era (2011-present)

2011 season

In 2011 the Super Rugby competition was expanded to 15 teams and adopted a conference format. The Blues had a successful start to the season, defeating the Crusaders by 24-22 at Eden Park . This was followed by a win and a loss on their South African tour, followed by a 22-all draw against the Western Force in Perth. This was followed by a seven match winning streak between rounds five and twelve. However, the mid-season winning streak came to an abrupt end with a 37 - 31 loss to the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, which initiated a four match losing-streak. In the final round-robin match of the season, the Blues defeated the Highlanders by 33-16 at Eden Park , securing the side's first playoff appearance since 2007 and first home playoff match since 2003. The team subsequently defeated the New South Wales Waratahs 26 - 13 to secure a semi-final against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, which they lost 30-13.The 2011 season also marked the departure of Kurtis Haiu , who was diagnosed with a bone tumour in April. Following his diagnosis, he took an indefinite break from rugby to focus on his health.

2012 season

2012, the team's fourth season under coach Pat Lam , saw the arrival of former Hurricanes icons, and 2011 Rugby World Cup winners, Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu . The regular season began on 24 February against the Crusaders at Eden Park . Following two successive losses to start the season, the side's first victory came away to the Bulls, with starting debutant Gareth Anscombe scoring all of the Blues points in the 29-23 win. In doing so, Anscombe set a team record for most points in a match. In the same match, Rene Ranger became the first Blues player to receive a White Card, which resulted in a two-week suspension. Seven consecutive losses followed, beginning with the Stormers in round four, and finishing with the Hurricanes in round eleven. Growing frustration amongst fans was evident during this period, with racist remarks directed at coach Pat Lam via social media, talkback radio and the Blues own website. Lam, who is of Samoan descent, received support from a number of former Blues players during this period, including Michael Jones and Eroni Clarke . In August, the Blues' full coaching staff for the 2013 season was announced, with Sir Graham Henry taking on a role as technical advisor and defensive coach, Mick Byrne appointed forwards and kicking coach, and Grant Doorey appointed skills and backline coach.

2013 season

The 2013 season saw an all new Blues team with many players leaving, including Ma'a Nonu to the Highlanders and Gareth Anscombe to the Chiefs. On the morning of 31 October 2012 new coach Sir John Kirwan announced the 2013 Blues squad which included 14 Super Rugby debutants, and Ali Williams taking over as captain. Handed a bye on the first round the Blues started the regular season on 23 February 2013 with a 34-20 away win against the Hurricanes, followed by a 34-15 home win against the Crusaders the next week. 3 consecutive losses followed, including the Bulls first victory at Eden Park . The Blues regained some form again, winning 4 of the next 5 games. Beating the Highlanders at home and completing the double over the Hurricanes with a 28-6 win at Eden Park before losing a close game against the Reds. The Blues then defeated both the Stormers and the Rebels before losing 3 games in a row to the Crusaders, Brumbies, and Highlanders respectively. The Blues then travelled to South Africa with two must win games against the Sharks and the Cheetahs, unfortunately losing both and ending the Blues chances of making the play-offs. Ali Williams played his 100th game for the Blues against the Sharks. The Blues returned to New Zealand with a last home game against the already play-off qualified Chiefs. Despite a red card to Kane Barrett for stomping in the 23rd minute, the Blues played a remarkably strong game, taking the lead just after half-time but a yellow card to first-five Baden Kerr struck another blow for the Blues. The mounting Chiefs pressure paid off resulting in a Ben Tameifuna try with 17 minutes to go, winning the game for the Chiefs. The Blues walked off the field to a standing ovation from their fans, the first time an Eden Park crowd had been upstanding for a defeat.The Blues finished the season in 10th place, with 6 players earning All Black call ups and Frank Halai as the team's top try scorer scoring 10 tries in his debut season. They signed international super star Benji Marshall for the 2014 season (only to return to league with the Dragons half way through it) and Ma'a Nonu for two seasons starting in 2014.

Current Standings


#PWDLGoalsPts
1Crusaders10802324:20237
2Chiefs10802342:23837
3Highlanders11803295:20537
4Hurricanes11704331:24036
5Stormers10613265:17531
6Waratahs10604256:18930
7Brumbies11704277:24729
8Bulls10613258:22128
9Lions9603268:23527
10Sharks10514206:17126
11Blues9513230:21825
12Melbourne Rebels10505235:25823
13Cheetahs11308296:29616
14Jaguares9207237:25412
15Reds11218198:30912
16Western Force10208183:32110
17Sunwolves10118219:3799
18Southern Kings10109190:4524

Recent Matches


Blues Last 5 Results
DateHomeScoreAwayNotesDetails
30 Apr 2016Blues36 - 30Melbourne Rebels   Details
28 May 2016Blues21 - 26Crusaders   Details
26 Feb 2016Blues33 - 31Highlanders   Details
21 May 2016Western Force13 - 17Blues   Details
19 Mar 2016Reds25 - 25Blues   Details


Blues Next 5 Matches
DateHomevsAwayNotesDetails
02 Jul 2016HurricanesvsBlues   Details
08 Jul 2016BluesvsBrumbies   Details
15 Jul 2016BluesvsWaratahs   Details

Season-by-Season summary


  A season-by-season summary of Blues regular season results and playoff fixtures is shown below:
Season-by-Season Results
Year Played Win Draw Loss PF PA Diff BP Points Place Playoffs

Honours


Super 12/14 (1996-2010)

  • Champions (3) 1996, 1997, 2003
  • Runners-up (1) 1998
  • Playoff Appearances (1) 2007

    Super Rugby (2011-present)

  • Playoff Appearances (1) 2011

    Rivalries


    The Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy is contested between the Blues and Highlanders as a part of regular season fixtures between the two sides. The trophy is awarded in memory of Gordon Hunter, who had been head coach of both teams prior to his passing in 2002. The Highlanders currently hold the trophy after defeating the Blues in round 16 of the 2013 season.

    Stadium


    The team's primary home ground is Eden Park , located in the central Auckland suburb of Kingsland. The stadium has a capacity of 50,000. In addition to hosting Blues home matches, the ground is the home of the Auckland Rugby Football Union and Auckland Cricket, and is a frequent host of All Blacks matches, and hosted the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-finals, third-place playoff, and final.In addition to Eden Park, Blues home matches are occasionally held at North Harbour Stadium , home of the North Harbour Rugby Union , and Okara Park , home of the Northland Rugby Union .
    Albany Auckland Whangarei
    QBE Stadium Eden Park Toll Stadium
    Capacity: 30,000 Capacity: 60,000 Capacity: 18,500
    - - -

    Franchise area and ownership


    The Blues represent the Auckland, North Harbour, and Northland rugby unions. Since 2014 the regional franchise until 2020 has been owned 60% (divided 65%, 29% and 6%) by the three provincial unions through Rugby Holdings Ltd and 40% by private investor Bolton Equities Ltd.Up to and including 2010, all New Zealand-based Super Rugby sides were able to protect 24 players from within their region each season. Players not protected by the Blues could be selected by any of the other four New Zealand teams for that season, while the Blues were also able to bring in players from other regions for the season. The team had predominantly drawn its players from its own unions, with the vast majority of players hailing from Auckland, however in recent years several notable players have been signed from outside the region, such as Stephen Brett , Alby Mathewson , Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu .From 2011 onwards, the NZRU has relaxed the rules imposed on teams in terms of player recruitment. New Zealand teams will move to a direct-contracting recruitment format, which will enable each team to field two foreign (non-New Zealand or Pacific Island) players each season, in addition to squad sizes increasing from 28 to 32 players.The current Blues (and Auckland Rugby Football Union ) CEO is former Counties and New Zealand player Andy Dalton. Along with Dalton, Gary Whetton , Grant Fox , Geoff Vazey, Mike Budd, John Morgan and Andrew Golightly make up the Blues board. In April 2012, Gary Whetton was appointed chairman of the board following the resignation of Greg Muir. His place as Auckland Rugby Union board representative was taken by Glenn Wahlstrom.

    Development team


    The Blues have fielded a development team in competitions such as the Pacific Rugby Cup and in matches against other representative teams for several seasons. Known as the Blues Development XV, the squad is selected from the best emerging rugby talent in the Blues catchment area and is composed of Blues contracted players, wider training group members, under 20s, and selected club players.

    Players


    Current squad

    The squad for the 2016 Super Rugby season :
    Blues Super Rugby squad
    Props
  • Charlie Faumuina
  • Sione Mafileo
  • Nic Mayhew
  • Sam Prattley
  • Ofa Tu'ungafasi
  • Namatahi Waa WTG
  • Hookers
  • Quentin MacDonald
  • Matt Moulds
  • James Parsons
  • Locks
  • Josh Bekhuis
  • Gerard Cowley-Tuioti
  • Hoani Matenga
  • Patrick Tuipulotu
  • Scott Scrafton WTG
  • Loose forwards
  • Blake Gibson
  • Akira Ioane
  • Jerome Kaino (c)
  • Tanerau Latimer
  • Steve Luatua
  • Kara Pryor
  • Jack Ram
  • Joe EdwardsWTG
  • Halfbacks (Scrum-halves)
  • Billy Guyton
  • Bryn Hall
  • Sam Nock
  • First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)
  • Matt McGahan
  • Ihaia West
  • Piers Francis WTG
  • Midfielders (Centres)
  • Rieko Ioane
  • George Moala
  • Rene Ranger
  • Male Sa'u
  • TJ Faiane WTG
  • Matt Vaega WTG
  • Wings
  • Matt Duffie
  • Ben Lam
  • Tevita Li
  • Melani Nanai
  • Afa Fa'atau WTG
  • Fullbacks
  • Lolagi Visinia
  • Michael Little WTG
  • Jordan Trainor WTG
  • (c) Denotes team captain, Bold denotes internationally capped, WTG denotes Wider Training Group players.
    ST denotes players not initially included in the named squad, but subsequently signed on a short-term deal.

    Current internationally capped players

  • Jerome Kaino (67)
  • Charlie Faumuina (33)
  • Male Sa'u (26)
  • Steven Luatua (14)
  • Patrick Tuipulotu (7)
  • Rene Ranger (6)
  • Tanerau Latimer (5)
  • Jack Ram (5)
  • George Moala (1)
  • James Parsons (1)
  • Coaches and management


    Head coach

  • Tana Umaga

    Assistant Coaches

  • Sir Graham Henry (Technical advisor and defensive coach)
  • Mick Byrne (Forwards and kicking coach)
  • Grant Doorey (Backs and skills coach)
  • Bryce Anderson - Manager
  • Captains


  • Zinzan Brooke (1996-97)
  • Michael Jones (1998)
  • Robin Brooke (1999-2001)
  • Glenn Taylor (2002)
  • Xavier Rush (2003-05)
  • Keven Mealamu (2006)
  • Troy Flavell (2007-08)
  • Keven Mealamu (2009-12)
  • Ali Williams (2013)
  • Luke Braid (2014)
  • Jerome Kaino (2015-)
  • Coaches


  • Sir Graham Henry (1996-98)
  • Jed Rowlands (1999)
  • Gordon Hunter (2000)
  • Frank Oliver (2001)
  • Peter Sloane (2002-05)
  • David Nucifora (2006-08)
  • Pat Lam (2009-12)
  • Sir John Kirwan (2013-15)
  • Tana Umaga (2016-)
  • Records and achievements


    Individual records

    Most appearances

    # PlayerApps.Span
    1. Keven Mealamu 164 2000-01; 2003-15
    2. Tony Woodcock 130 2002-12; 2014-15
    3. Ali Williams 102 2002-07; 2009; 2011-13
    4. John Afoa 101 2004-11
    5. Jerome Kaino 101 2004-12; 2014-
    6. Doug Howlett 97 1999-2007
    7. Carlos Spencer 96 1996-2005
    Joe Rokocoko 96 2003-11
    9. Justin Collins 93 1999-2000; 2002-09
    10. Xavier Rush 86 1997-2005

    Most points

    (Updated as of Round 2 2015, Blues v Stormers)
    # PlayerPts.Span
    1. Adrian Cashmore 617 1996-2000
    2. Carlos Spencer 610 1996-2005
    3. Luke McAlister 389 2004-07; 2010-11
    4. Doug Howlett 275 1999-2007
    5. Joeli Vidiri 215 1996-2001
    6. Isa Nacewa 208 2005-08
    7. Joe Rokocoko 195 2003-11
    8. Stephen Brett 191 2012-13
    9. Nick Evans 150 2008
    10. Rene Ranger 125 2009-13

    Most tries

    # PlayerTriesSpan
    1. Doug Howlett 55 1999-2007
    2. Joeli Vidiri 43 1996-2001
    3. Joe Rokocoko 39 2003-11
    4. Carlos Spencer 25 1996-2005
    - Rene Ranger 25 2009-13
    6. Rudi Wulf 20 2005; 2007-10; 2012
    7. Isaia Toeava 18 2007-12
    8. Mils Muliaina 16 2001-05
    9. Rupeni Caucaunibuca 15 2002-04
    10. Eroni Clarke 14 1996-2000
    - Xavier Rush 14 1997-2005
    - Troy Flavell 14 1999-2003; 2006-08

    Most points in a match

    # PlayerPts.OppositionYear
    1. Gareth Anscombe 29 Bulls 2012
    2. Adrian Cashmore 27 Highlanders 1998
    3. Stephen Brett 26 Lions 2010
    4. Adrian Cashmore 24 Bulls 1998
    5. Carlos Spencer 23 Western Province 1996
    Nick Evans 23 Highlanders 2008

    Most tries in a match

    Tries PlayerOppositionYear
    4 Joeli Vidiri Bulls 2000
    Doug Howlett Hurricanes 2002
    Mils Muliaina Bulls 2002
    3 Joeli Vidiri Waratahs 1996
    Mark Carter Stormers 1998
    Doug Howlett Hurricanes 2002
    Rupeni Caucaunibuca Crusaders 2004
    Rua Tipoki Western Force 2006
    Joe Rokocoko Cheetahs 2008
    Joe Rokocoko Western Force 2010

    Most points in a season

    # PlayerPts.Year
    1. Adrian Cashmore 180 1998
    2. Nick Evans 150 2008
    3. Carlos Spencer 143 2003
    4. Adrian Cashmore 142 1997
    5. Stephen Brett 141 2010
    6. Luke McAlister 137 2011
    7. Simon Hickey 124 2014
    8. Adrian Cashmore 118 1999
    9. Jimmy Gopperth 104 2009
    10. Isa Nacewa 103 2007

    Most tries in a season

    Tries PlayerYear
    12 Doug Howlett 2003
    10 Joeli Vidiri 1996
    Joeli Vidiri 1997
    Joeli Vidiri 1998
    Doug Howlett 2002
    Frank Halai 2013

    Team Records

  • Highest Regular Season Placing : 1st (1996, 1997, 2003)
  • Most Wins in a Season : 10 (1997, 2003, 2011)
  • Most Points in a Season : 435 (1997)
  • Biggest Win : 60 - 7 (2002, Game 1 vs. Hurricanes - Wellington)
  • Biggest Loss : 12 - 59 (2012 vs. Crusaders at Rugby League Park)
  • Overall regular-season record

  • Games played : 255
  • Games won : 134
  • Games lost : 117
  • Games drawn : 4
  • Winning percentage : 52.5%
  • Points for : 6793
  • Points against : 6159