The Highlanders (known as the Pulse Energy Highlanders for sponsorship reasons and formerly known as the Otago Highlanders ) are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Dunedin that compete in Super Rugby . The team represents the North Otago, Otago and Southland unions. The Highlanders take their name from the Scottish immigrants that helped found the Otago, North Otago , and Southland regions in the 1840s and 1850s. Their main ground through the 2011 Super Rugby season was Carisbrook in Dunedin , with home games occasionally being played in Invercargill and Queenstown. The Highlanders moved into Carisbrook's replacement, Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza, for the 2012 season; the stadium opened in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup , but after the Super Rugby season.The team was formed in 1996 to represent the lower South Island in the newly formed Super 12 competition. They finished the inaugural season eighth, and the following season finished last after winning only three of eleven matches. However, in the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons they qualified for semi-finals; hosting the 1999 competition final against fellow South Island team the Crusaders. They lost the match 24-19, and the following year were again knocked out by the Crusaders—this time in their semi-final. In the following fifteen seasons they would only finish in the top four once more, in 2002. But in 2015, they were crowned Super Rugby champions.Former Highlander, Anton Oliver has played a record 127 games for the Highlanders, and thirteen other players have played over 50 games for the team. The Highlanders' highest career points scorer is Tony Brown with 857 points, and highest career try scorer is Jeff Wilson with 35. They are currently coached by Jamie Joseph and are co-captained by Shane Christie and Ben Smith.


The Highlanders' franchise was created as one of five New Zealand teams in the Super 12. Originally named the Otago Highlanders , the Highlanders' franchise area encompassed the lower South Island of New Zealand, and was formed from the North Otago, Otago, and Southland provincial rugby unions. at Lancaster Park, and they finished the season eighth on the table.1997 was the least successful season ever for the Highlanders. They were now coached by Glenn Ross and captained by Taine Randell . Following their last place in the 1997 season, Tony Gilbert was appointed as coach. The Highlanders eventually became the first New Zealand side to defeat all four South African teams in one season. After defeating the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld they needed the Queensland Reds not to defeat the Brumbies by a large margin. Queensland were defeated by the Brumbies 23-16 and the Highlanders finished fourth, thus qualifying for the semi-finals. In the semi-final, they faced defending champions the Auckland Blues at Eden Park. The Blues were leading 20-16 at halftime, and were leading 30-26 before a controversial try to Adrian Cashmore pushed the Blues to a 37-26 lead. Joeli Vidiri had illegally taken out Highlander Stanley off the ball.The following season in 1999 the Highlanders improved on their 1997 season record by reaching and hosting the tournament final. They opened their season with a 19-13 victory over the Auckland Blues at Carisbrook. This was followed by a victory over the Northern Bulls, the Stormers at Carisbrook, and the Cats, before their first loss of the season to the Sharks. They returned to New Zealand to defeat the Waikato Chiefs and then the Crusaders. After defeating the Reds, the Highlanders lost to the New South Wales Waratahs at Carisbrook. The next week they defeated the Brumbies at the same venue. In their next match, despite leading the Wellington Hurricanes 14-3 at half time, the Highlanders lost when Hurricanes half back Jason Spice scored in the corner to give the Hurricanes a 21-19 victory. Had the Highlanders won they would have finished top of the table and hosted a semi-final at Carisbrook. Instead they then had to travel to South Africa where they defeated the Stormers 33-18. The Highlanders travelled back to Dunedin for the 1999 Super 12 Final , which was against South Island rivals the Canterbury Crusaders, and was billed as "the party at Tony Brown's house" after Highlanders first five-eighth Tony Brown. The Highlanders scored first, and led 14-9 at half time. However the decisive try was to Crusaders wing Afato So'oalo, who chipped the ball then out-sprinted All Blacks winger Jeff Wilson to collect the ball and score. Although the Highlanders scored a try to Isitolo Maka with three minutes remaining, the Crusaders won 24-19. They won their next three matches, against the Sharks, Hurricanes and Cats. However they then lost their following three; against the Crusaders, Brumbies, and Blues. They played the Crusaders at Jade Stadium in their semi-final, and were defeated 37-15 after Marika Vunibaka scored two tries for the Crusaders in the last 20 minutes. The next season opened with a 23-8 victory over the Blues. Their 39-20 defeat of the Waratahs at Carisbrook on 7 April was the first defeat of New South Wales by an Otago-based side since the Otago provincial team defeated New South Wales 5-0 in 1901. The Highlanders narrowly lost to the Hurricanes in Napier 35-33 before defeating the Brumbies at Carisbrook on 20 April. Although the Highlanders went undefeated at home for a second consecutive season, they finished fifth with six wins that season. Their season started with a narrow 30-28 loss to the Crusaders at Jade Stadium. That year the Highlanders also achieved a win over all four South African teams. The match was played at Eden Park, and the Highlanders were ahead 15-3 at half time, and eventually won 20-13. Their last home match of the season was against the Reds at Carisbrook. The Highlanders' 40-26 win meant that they had gone three seasons undefeated at Carisbrook.The 2003 season started with a 29-16 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton. They then defeated the Stormers and Bulls before losing to the Cats in Johannesburg. Their second loss occurred when the Crusaders defeated them 17-16 at Carisbrook. The Highlanders had gone three seasons, 2000, 2001 and 2002, and 16 games unbeaten at Carisbrook before that loss. The Highlanders then defeated the Blues 22-11 to retain the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy. In April that year it was revealed a rift had developed between coach Laurie Mains and some of the senior players in the squad. and after their final game of the season Mains resigned and was replaced by his assistant Greg Cooper. Not only did they have a new head coach, but also thirteen new players in their squad. The Highlanders' 2005 season started with a loss to the Blues at Carisbrook. Following this the side won six games consecutively, the first time the franchise had ever done so. After a draw with the Stormers and a bye, the Highlanders had gone unbeaten for eight weeks. Three weeks from the end of the round robin they were third, but after losing their remaining three matches fell to eighth for the season. The 2007 ended with a similar result to 2006. The Highlanders again finished ninth on the table, and worst of the New Zealand teams. They finished the season with five wins and eight losses from their thirteen matches.While the fortunes of the franchise had been declining for a few years, they would bottom out with a player exodus following the 2007 Rugby World Cup . The squad's entire All Black front row of Carl Hayman , Anton Oliver , and Clarke Dermody left for lucrative contracts in Europe, while star first-five Nick Evans moved north to Auckland to play for the Blues, and hugely talented young lock James Ryan was forced to retire at age 24 due to injury problems. Joining the exodus were several other veteran starters, along with coach Greg Cooper who left the franchise to take up an assistant coaching position with the Blues. The coach for the 2008 season, Glenn Moore, was appointed 28 August 2007.Moore was left with a weak side of young and inexperienced players which would stumble to a franchise-worst record of only 3 wins against 10 losses during the 2008 Super 14 season , and finished as the lowest-placed New Zealand team on the table. Jimmy Cowan , one of the team's few bright spots through this period, was appointed team captain for 2009, but things would improve little over the following two seasons as the team again limped to the worst record of the New Zealand clubs. When Moore was released as coach following the 2010 season, the franchise had compiled a record of only 10 wins against 29 losses in three seasons under his leadership.Former All Black Jamie Joseph was hired as coach for the 2011 Super Rugby season , while Jamie Mackintosh replaced Cowan as team captain. The campaign would prove to be the franchise's most successful in several years, as they raced out to a 3-0 start including a monumental away win over the Bulls in Pretoria . They remained in playoff contention for almost the entire season, sitting 8-4 at one juncture, before slumping under an injury cloud at the end of the year to finish 8th on the table.Highlanders won the 2015 Super Rugby season defeating the Hurricanes 21-14 in Wellington. Phil Gifford called the win the "greatest Super Rugby comeback this century".

Current Standings

12Melbourne Rebels10505235:25823
16Western Force10208183:32110
18Southern Kings10109190:4524

Recent Matches

Highlanders Last 5 Results
30 Apr 2016Highlanders23 - 10Brumbies   Details
27 May 2016Hurricanes27 - 20Highlanders   Details
26 Mar 2016Melbourne Rebels3 - 27Highlanders   Details
26 Feb 2016Blues33 - 31Highlanders   Details
22 Apr 2016Highlanders14 - 15Sharks   Details

Highlanders Next 5 Matches
02 Jul 2016Southern KingsvsHighlanders   Details
09 Jul 2016JaguaresvsHighlanders   Details
16 Jul 2016HighlandersvsChiefs   Details

Name and colours

The logo of the Otago Highlanders before they changed their name.The name Highlanders was chosen after the early Scottish settlers in the lower South Island . These Scottish settlers were the founders of Dunedin —known as the " Edinburgh of the South", and the city where the Highlanders are based. According to the Highlanders official website: " The name and image of the Highlander conjures up visions of fierce independence, pride in one's roots, loyalty, strength, kinship, honesty, and hard work." It was debuted in the Highlanders' final home match of the 2011 Super Rugby season.Despite the resounding negative feedback from fans, this kit was initially confirmed for the 2012 season. On 6 September 2011, however, the club announced a change of heart—they would be returning to their traditional blue strip for home matches, and using the lime green kit for away matches during the 2012 Super Rugby season.

Franchise area

The unions that encompass the Highlanders' region.The Highlanders' franchise area consists of the region controlled by the North Otago, Otago and Southland Rugby Unions. and North Otago in the amateur Heartland Championship . However, given Otago and Southland's lack of success in the ITM Cup , the Highlanders have often looked further afield to sign players from. This is a reflection of Otago's historically large influx of people from distant lands during the early settlement period, particularly from the Celtic countries of Scotland and Ireland.


Carisbrook stadium.Starting with the 2012 season, the Highlanders moved into the Forsyth Barr Stadium, opened in August 2011. It was built to replace their original home of Carisbrook , which was no longer suitable for international rugby, or as a venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup . The Carisbrook Stadium Trust was established in 2006 to manage the planning and construction of a new stadium. The new stadium is not on the current Carisbrook site, but instead near the University of Otago and Otago Harbour . It is a roofed, all weather stadium with a rectangular configuration, and permanent seating capacity of 25,000 that could be expanded to 30,748 if necessary.The Highlanders' original home ground was the 29,000 capacity Carisbrook in Dunedin. Carisbrook is also known as "The Brook", or as "The House of Pain" due to its reputation as a difficult venue to visit. The stadium was also well known for Dunedin's large student population (known as "Scarfies") that occupied the terraces—an uncovered concrete embankment at the eastern end of the ground.The Highlanders usually play at least one regular season match outside of Dunedin, at either Rugby Park in Invercargill or the Queenstown Events Centre in Queenstown. Prior to 2007 the regular season match was usually played at Rugby Park, however in 2007 they played a match at the Queenstown Events Centre. The Highlanders have also played pre-season matches at Centennial Park in Oamaru and at the Showgrounds in Balclutha.On 28 March 2009, the Highlanders played a home game at FMG Stadium in Palmerston North against the Bulls. This game attracted a crowd of 10,000; one of the Highlanders' biggest of the 2009 season.
Invercargill Dunedin Queenstown
Rugby Park Stadium Forsyth Barr Stadium Queenstown Events Centre
Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 30,748 Capacity: 19,000
- - -

Development team

The Highlanders 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 Highlanders Development XV, the squad is selected from the best emerging rugby talent in the Highlanders catchment area and is composed of Highlanders contracted players, wider training group members, under 20s, and selected club players.

Records and achievements

Season standings

Season Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts Notes
1996 8th 11 5 0 6 329 391 −62 6 26
1997 12th 11 3 0 8 299 409 −110 5 17
1998 4th 11 7 0 4 343 279 +64 6 34 lost semi-final to Auckland Blues
1999 2nd 11 8 0 3 280 203 +77 3 35 lost final to Crusaders
2000 3rd 11 6 0 5 320 280 +40 8 32 lost semi-final to Crusaders
2001 5th 11 6 0 5 284 295 −11 5 29
2002 4th 11 8 0 3 329 207 +122 6 38 lost semi-final to Rut Crusaders
2003 7th 11 6 0 5 287 246 +41 5 29
2004 9th 11 4 1 6 299 347 −48 8 26
2005 8th 11 6 1 4 221 214 +7 1 27
2006 6th 13 6 0 7 228 276 −48 3 27
2007 9th 13 5 0 8 235 301 −66 7 27
2008 9th 13 3 0 10 257 338 −81 7 19
2009 11th 13 4 0 9 254 269 −15 10 26
2010 12th 13 3 0 10 297 397 −100 6 18
2011 8th 16 8 0 8 296 343 −47 5 45
2012 9th 16 9 0 7 359 385 −26 6 50
2013 14th 16 3 0 13 374 496 −122 9 29
2014 6th 16 8 0 8 401 442 −41 10 42 lost qualifier to Sharks
2015 1st 16 11 0 5 450 333 +117 9 53 Champions

Team records

The 2014 season set several new records for the team, that had stood since the 1998 and 1999 seasons. They scored their most ever points (425), and most ever tries (42) in a season. Lima Sopoaga set a franchise record for most points in a season with 178, becoming just the third Highlander to score 25 points in a game. The 2000 year saw perhaps their greatest victory ever with their 65-23 win against the Bulls, setting several records; most points in a match, most tries in a match with nine, and largest winning margin of 42.Former first five-eighth Tony Brown holds the record for most career points with 857. His 857 career points included 144 conversions, 183 penalties, and six drop-goals. The most points in a single match is held by former fullback Ben Blair who scored 28 against the Sharks in 2005. Most career tries is held by former player Jeff Wilson with 35. Wilson and Blair also share the record for most tries in a single match with three along with Israel Dagg , Doug Howlett , Ryan Nicholas , Jeremy Stanley , and To'o Vaega .
Highlanders Super Rugby squad
  • Brendon Edmonds
  • Ross Geldenhuys
  • Siua Halanukonuka
  • Josh Hohneck
  • Daniel Lienert-Brown
  • Craig MillarWTG
  • Aki Seiuli ST
  • Hookers
  • Liam Coltman
  • Ash Dixon
  • Greg Pleasants-Tate WTG
  • Locks
  • Alex Ainley
  • Tom Franklin
  • Mark Reddish
  • Joe Wheeler
  • Jackson Hemopo WTG
  • Loose forwards
  • Shane Christie (c)
  • Elliot Dixon
  • Gareth Evans
  • James Lentjes
  • Dan Pryor
  • Liam Squire
  • Luke Whitelock
  • Halfbacks (Scrum-halves)
  • Josh Renton
  • Aaron Smith
  • Fumiaki Tanaka WTG
  • First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)
  • Marty Banks
  • Hayden Parker
  • Lima Sopoaga
  • Midfielders (Centres)
  • Richard Buckman
  • Jason Emery
  • Matt Faddes
  • Malakai Fekitoa
  • Rob Thompson
  • Sio Tomkinson WTG
  • Teihorangi Walden WTG
  • Wings
  • Waisake Naholo
  • Patrick Osborne
  • Ryan Tongia
  • Jack WilsonST
  • Fullbacks
  • Ben Smith (c)
  • (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

  • Fumiaki Tanaka (53) (Japan)
  • Ben Smith (48) (New Zealand)
  • Aaron Smith (47) (New Zealand)
  • Malakai Fekitoa (13) (New Zealand)
  • Waisake Naholo (3) (New Zealand)
  • Lima Sopoaga (1) (New Zealand)
  • Luke Whitelock (1)(New Zealand)
  • Siua Halanukonuka (1) (Tonga)
  • Elliot Dixon (0) (New Zealand)
  • Liam Squire (0) (New Zealand)
  • Patrick Osborne (0) (Fiji)
  • *
  • Ben Smith is also the vice captain of the 2016 All Blacks!

    Notable players

    Players who have played over 50 games for the Highlanders: Glen Ross took over in 1997, and was not reappointed for the 1998 season. Tony Gilbert was appointed for the 1998 season, and again coached the team in 1999 before being appointed co-coach for the All Blacks. Peter Sloane was appointed Gilbert's successor for the 2000 season, and also coached them in 2001 before moving to coach the Blues. Laurie Mains returned to New Zealand from South Africa to replace Sloane for the 2002 season. Mains resigned following the 2003 season after a rift between him and senior players. Greg Cooper replaced Mains and coached the team from 2003 until 2007, when he left the franchise to take up the assistant coaches position with the Blues. Glenn Moore coached the club from 2008 through until 2010, when he was relieved of his duties after the club posted only 10 wins against 29 losses in his three years in charge. His replacement was former All Black flanker Jamie Joseph , who has been coach since the start of the 2011 season.In 2013 Tony Brown was appointed the job as attack coach after two seasons being the head coach of Otago and leading them to finals fixtures.Head coach
  • Jamie Joseph Assistant coaches
  • Jon Preston
  • Scott McLeod
  • Kees Meeuws
  • Tony Brown
  • Bibliography

  • Cite book |last=McIlraith|first= Matt |year=2005 |title=Ten Years of Super 12 |publisher=Hodder Moa |isbn=1-86971-025-8
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