Rugby Teams in NZ 2024
NZ’s pro rugby is a sport dominated by teams from the five Super Rugby clubs: Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues Highlanders, and Hurricanes. Rugby is New Zealand’s most popular sport, with talented players, such as Codie Taylor and Jordan Barrett known both nationally and globally.
The rugby clubs are broken down regionally. Take the Auckland Blues, for example. They bring their unique style to Eden Park. The Highlanders, on the contrary, infuse the game with their distinct Dunedin essence. Also evident are the National Provincial Championship powerhouses like Canterbury and Auckland, demonstrating a depth of talent right across New Zealand’s biggest stage. Here, the Heartland Championship takes place in New Zealand’s heartland, where the love of rugby runs deepest.
On the international stage, spectators and fans everywhere eagerly await clashes between New Zealand’s All Blacks and their key rivals, including Argentina, South Africa, and Australia.
The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national union rugby team, are the face of the country’s rugby spirit for two main reasons.
- Unmatched legacy. The All Blacks have a glorious history with many successes, including several victories in the Rugby World Cup. Their legacy stretches beyond the field, influencing rugby cultures and standards – nationally and around the world.
- Cultural significance. Much more than sports enthusiasts, the All Blacks represent New Zealand’s vibrant culture. In fact, their pregame haka is a dynamic demonstration of the Māori tradition that charms audiences anywhere.
These values have not merely earned the All Blacks a unique place in rugby’s history.
The Blues, Chiefs, and Crusaders all possess points of difference that make them the finest specimens of professional rugby excellence in New Zealand.
- The Blues. The Auckland-based Blues are known for their fast, aggressive style of play. They have a fine tradition of producing world-class players who are equally comfortable at home and abroad.
- The Chiefs. From Hamilton, the Chiefs are renowned for their carefully planned attacks and team effort. Their ability to plot and subject themselves to change quickly while playing makes them a tough opponent.
- The Crusaders. One of Super Rugby’s most successful teams in history is the Christchurch-based Crusaders. The great number of titles is testimony to their well-worn approach, which is marked by orderly discipline and steady performance.
Did You Know? Not only is rugby New Zealand’s national sport, its emotion brings the country together.
The rugby image of New Zealand is maintained by Auckland Rugby Union, Canterbury Rugby Football Union, and Wellington Rugby Football Union.
The Auckland Rugby Union, founded in 1883, was long a part of the National Provincial Championships, with a record of 16 ITM Cup titles.
Locally, Canterbury successfully won a couple of National Provincial Championship trophies, with 15 Ranfurly Shield wins and 136 defences.
The 1879-founded Wellington Rugby Football Union won a 2nd tier competition in 2017, with many of its players Super Rugby’s Hurricanes, and a team playing for The Mitre 10 Cup.
Apart from backing their own professional teams, it is this league that continues New Zealand’s ongoing rugby talent.
The Black Ferns, the national women’s only team of New Zealand, is a powerful member of international women’s rugby.
In 2017, the Black Ferns set an astonishing won-lost record when they were good enough to win World Rugby Team of Year honours for women’s teams – the first ever by a women’s side.
The New Zealand Black Ferns brought the Rugby World Cup home in 2023. The Black Ferns managed to hold on by just a point and beat England in an intense final, watched by a crowd of 42,000.
Beyond the All Blacks, there are the prestigious Maori All Blacks and New Zealand Under-20s.
Māori All Blacks
Through cultural pride, one example is the Māori All Blacks, which represents New Zealand’s indigenous heritage. Together, they’re an example of unity and strength. Here’s why:
- Unique heritage. The Māori All Blacks were formed in 1910 with a special criterion – players must have Māori whakapapa (genealogy). This condition means that the team not only reflects a rugby player’s prowess; it best shows off Māori culture.
- Global impact. These big wins, in addition to those against mighty teams such as Ireland and France, have helped the Māoris demonstrate their culture to an international audience. Fans can follow their fixtures and updates at the club’s site, or in individual rugby articles.
- Prominent players. Legendary players like George Nēpia and Tane Norton were developed by the Māori All Blacks. Players such as Will Jordan carry on this tradition.
- Prominent places. In places like Nelson, Napier, Palmerston North, and Tauranga, the team’s history is spotted with glorious games. They’ve played against teams from Canada and other countries and have consistently shown a high level of play.
The Māori All Blacks are more than just a rugby team. They’re keepers of the flame, spreading understanding and knowledge about other cultures in an accessible form that everyone can enjoy.
Did You Know? More than 80% of New Zealand’s population not only supports rugby events but attends them.
New Zealand Under-20s
The flagship of the country’s youth rugby, New Zealand’s Under-20s team trains young stars for top-level test rugby. If you’re keen to know more, check out these points:
- Pathway to stardom. In the 7 years since its start in 2008, the New Zealand Under-20s (some of a much younger age) is an important step for young players with aspirations toward senior rep rugby.
- Talent development. The Under-20s program has a reputation for being rigorous in terms of training and development, with players not only improving their skills but becoming familiar with the ideals and tactics of New Zealand rugby.
- Record of success. The New Zealand Under-20s with several championships notched to their belts in international tournaments, have shown time and again that the youth rugby of New Zealand is no joke.
- Alumni excellence. Graduates of the Under-20s program successfully integrate with the All Blacks, confirming its purpose to develop talent for future rugby stars.
With each passing season, the New Zealand Under-20s team reaffirms its critical role in shaping the future of New Zealand rugby, turning promising athletes into world-class rugby players.
Since their first appearance in 1903, New Zealand’s national men’s rugby team the All Blacks is still sitting atop the world with a win-loss rate of 77.12% – from an incredible total of 618 Tests played to date!
Here’s the nutshell version of NZ’s rugby history and proud achievements:
- Consistency and innovation. The All Blacks are both the embodiment of steady performance and creative play. They’re the test case for rugby teams around the world, continually changing and expanding their language.
- Innovative play. Reputed for their expansive play and tactical skills, they’ve had a huge impact on modern rugby. Playing against them is often an eye-opening experience.
- Player development. Players like Aaron Smith, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, and Richie Mo’unga have risen to become icons of rugby.
- Cultural integration. Although the team is undeniably high achieving in rugby, it also represents New Zealand’s history by embracing Maori culture like the haka into their games.
Achievements like the All Blacks’ match-ups in Japan, and championship wins on English soil are not only about victories and trophies.
In rugby union, New Zealand is a force to be reckoned with–the players and coaches produced there not only have won tournaments but changed the course of international rugby.
From Eden Park to international arenas, the nation’s rugby legends are everywhere.
Here’s a list of heroes and their impact on the world of NZ rugby.
World-Class Talent: New Zealand’s Rugby Elite
- Dan Carter. Carter was the ideal man for a fly-half.His influence stretched from Eden Park to every stadium around the world. With 1598 pts from 112 caps, he was involved in crucial tournaments. His ability to insist on control of the rugby ball inspired players such as Samisoni Taukei’aho and Nepo Laulala.
- Jonah Lomu. The wing Lomu’s impact on rugby was huge, changing the way that players play in the position of winger. His legendary performances against teams such as England and Scotland are ingrained in rugby history.
- Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford. With his reputation for toughness, Shelford raised the intensity of play. The influence of his game stretched beyond New Zealand, helping to set standards for rugby union all over the world, mostly through matches with tough opponents such as England and South Africa.
- Colin ‘Pine Tree’ Meads. A lock and strong, tough rugby symbol, Meads’ career stretched from Romford to the Rugby Hall of Fame. He wasn’t just a player; he was part of a results-driven lineage that gave shape to the game itself.
In New Zealand, rugby is not just a sport, it’s something that brings people together. More than just a team, the All Blacks are an icon of success and community. From captains such as Sam Cane or Ardie Savea to stars like Beauden Barrett, NZ rugby teams give it their best, both on game days and in competitions.
The Black Ferns, New Zealand’s national women’s team, are leading a new era for this dynamic and inclusive sport. From the players to the dedicated support staff, referees representing and personifying the spirit of rugby, even right down to completing post-game analysis.
Anything more you want to know about rugby in New Zealand? You’re in the right place! In this section, you’ll receive help with the most common questions and related information.
What are New Zealand's leading rugby teams?
New Zealand features teams such as the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
What have the Crusaders won in Super Rugby?
The Crusaders are Christchurch’s representative in Super Rugby, having won the most titles.
In New Zealand, which team has taken home the most NPC trophies?
The rugby union side known as The Auckland Blues, marking their 2013 victory in the 11th National Provincial Championship title win.
What kind of history does the Auckland Blues rugby team have?
The Auckland Blues, based in Eden Park, boast a long heritage. Formed as a co-participant in the Super Rugby competition, they soon became famous for their direct and attacking play.
Where is the headquarters of New Zealand Rugby located?
In the New Zealand Rugby House, located in Wellington.
Lucius Boehm, our sports expert at Betkiwi, is a University of Auckland graduate with a degree in Sport, Health and Physical Education. He's honed his expertise over 10 years in the gambling industry, earning a reputation as one of New Zealand's top sports gambling specialists. Lucius enjoys analyzing sports trends and playing rugby in his spare time.More Articles From The Author