Tasman Rugby Union

The Tasman Rugby Union is the governing body for rugby union in Tasman Bay / Te Tai-o-Aorere, a bay at the north end of the South Island in New Zealand. Headquartered in Nelson, TRU is New Zealand's newest provincial union, founded in 2006 with the amalgamation of the existing Marlborough and Nelson Bays sub unions.

Tasman Rugby Union
SportRugby union
Founded2006; 15 years ago (2006)
AffiliationNew Zealand Rugby
Regional affiliationTasman Bay / Te Tai-o-Aorere
Official website

The union's premier team is the Tasman Mako which compete in New Zealand's provincial rugby competition, the Bunnings NPC.

Club rugby

There are 22 clubs in the Tasman Union.

  • Awatere Rugby Club
  • Buccaneers Rugby Club
  • Central Rugby Club
  • Collingwood Rugby Club
  • Harlequins Rugby Club
  • Huia Rugby Club
  • Kahurangi Rugby Club
  • Marist Rugby Club
  • Motueka United Rugby Club
  • Moutere Rugby Club
  • Murchison Rugby Club
  • Nelson Rugby Club
  • Pelorus Rugby Club
  • Rangers Rugby Club
  • Renwick Rugby Club
  • Riwaka Rugby Club
  • Stoke Rugby Club
  • Takaka Rugby Club
  • Tapawera Rugby Club
  • Waimea Old Boys Rugby Club
  • Waitohi Rugby Club
  • Wanderers Rugby Club


When the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) reviewed the domestic competitions in 2005, a new 14 team premier division of competition was created, as the Air New Zealand Cup, taking the place of the National Provincial Championship (NPC).

The restructured domestic competition opened the door for the Nelson Bays and Marlborough Rugby Unions to form a relationship, forming one organisation in an attempt to be awarded a position in the new competition.[1]

Early years: 2006 to 2010

A Tasman XV played Canada 'A' on April 26, 2006 at Trafalgar Park.[2] The Tasman side won by 40 points, the final score being 48 points to eight. The Mako were grouped in Pool A of the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup.

In their first ever match in the Air New Zealand Cup, the Mako earned a bonus point in a loss to the North Harbour team, losing 33 points to 27. They were defeated by Auckland the following week by 40 points. However, the Mako won their first match in round three, defeating Manawatu by 43 points to 0. Their only other win of the season came at home against Northland, with an impressive 56–15 win. Despite the season record of just 2 wins and 7 losses, the Mako showed the ability to compete and provided a platform to build for the future. Ti'i Paulo captained the side.[3]

The 2007 season was disappointing for the Mako, finishing the season with a record of 2 wins and 8 losses. Wins came against Hawke's Bay and Manawatu, with close losses against Waikato and Canterbury.[4]

Early on in the 2008 season, the NZRFU announced that Tasman and Northland would be relegated from the competition at the end of the season, due to failing to meet a set of criteria including financial stability. With the axe hovering over them, the Mako produced their best season yet, silencing their critics. In round 2 against Waikato, Tasman first five Miah Nikora nailed a stunning last minute drop-goal to snatch a 14–16 victory and claim the Mako first scalp over a major union. This was followed with wins over Taranaki, Northland, Manawatu and a draw against Otago to see the Mako finish the season 7th on the ladder. Facing a strong Canterbury side in the quarter-finals, the Mako went down 48–10. However, their strong season coupled with public pressure forced the NZRFU to reverse its decision and announce that Tasman and Northland would remain in the competition.[5]

There were doubts as to whether Tasman would contest the 2009 Air New Zealand Cup, with funding issues and disagreement amongst its stakeholders on its future.[6] However, these disputes were resolved and Tasman finished the 2009 season in 9th place with 6 wins and 7 losses, with their most memorable performance coming in round 9 against Auckland. Tasman won 12–8 in the most significant result of their short history. The Mako had come from the brink of extinction to topple the biggest union in the country.[7]

2010 was disappointing for the Mako, finishing the season in 12th place on the ladder with just 4 wins, failing to hold on to their mid-table status achieved in the previous two seasons.[8] However, the Mako managed to upset eventual champions and neighbours Canterbury in round 4, with a famous 27–25 victory at Trafalgar Park.[9]

Championship division: 2011 to 2013

In 2011, the ITM Cup was restructured into two competitions, with the top 7 teams competing for the Premiership title and the next 7 teams competing for the Championship title. Each province played the other 6 teams in their own division once, plus 4 interdivisional matches.[10]

The Tasman Mako played in the Championship for 2011. Despite taking just 2 wins and finishing in last spot for the season,[11] the Mako were well received by their fans by playing a positive attacking brand of rugby that included 4 losses by 4 points or less. Upset victories were achieved against Hawke's Bay 21–19 in Napier,[12] and Auckland (again) 30–28 in Nelson.[13] Shane Christie and James Marshall were selected for the New Zealand sevens team that year.[14][15]

2012 was a good season for the Mako, recording a win over Canterbury to start their season the Mako went on to win 5 out of their 10 round robin games and made the semi final where they lost to Otago 41-34.[16][17]

In 2013 for the first time in their short history the Mako gained promotion to the Premiership division as they won the Championship playing 12 games in the season and coming away with 10 wins, including a 49-28 win over Southland in the semi final at Lansdowne Park and the victory which sent them to the Premiership which was a tight 26-25 win over Hawke's Bay at Trafalgar Park.[18][19]

Premiership division: 2014 to present

Tasman was promoted to the ITM Cup Premiership division for the 2014 season.[11]

The Mako had a very good first year in the Premiership in 2014, making it all the way to the Premiership final where they went down in a close contest 36-32 to Taranaki at Yarrow Stadium. The Mako played 12 games in the 2014 season with 8 wins, 3 losses and a 16-16 draw against Auckland at Eden Park.[20][21]

2015 was again a solid year for the Mako, playing 11 games with 7 wins and 4 losses. The Mako made it to the semi final but lost 44-24 against Auckland at Eden Park.[22]

2016 and 2017 were very similar years for the Mako, making the final in both seasons. The 2016 season saw the Mako play 12 games with 8 wins, 3 losses and a 27-27 draw against North Harbour at North Harbour Stadium.[23] While the 2017 season saw the Mako play 12 games, winning 7 and losing 5. Both years though saw the Mako go down to Canterbury in the final, played at Christchurch Stadium both years, with the 2016 scoreline being 43-27 and the 2017 scoreline being 35-13.[24][25] The team also went through a re-brand, changing the logo and team colours ahead of the 2016 season.[26] The logo was later changed back after it received widespread criticism.[27]

2018 was again a very good year for the Mako, winning 9 out of 10 of their round robin fixtures - losing only to Auckland 36-10 at Eden Park. The team made the semi finals but lost 16-21 to Canterbury in a controversial game at Trafalgar Park.[28] 20 of the Mako squad from the 2018 season would go on to earn Super Rugby contracts for the 2019 Super Rugby season.[29] Ahead of the 2018 season, the team changed their name from the Tasman Makos to Tasman Mako, with 'Mako' being the correct plural of the Māori name.[30]

After just 14 seasons the Tasman Mako reached the pinnacle of New Zealand provincial rugby, winning the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup and doing it unbeaten. After going through the round robin with 10 wins from 10 games the Mako played Auckland at Lansdowne Park coming away with a 18-9 win in a game that went right down to the wire. The Mako then had their fourth crack at the Premiership title when they faced Wellington at Trafalgar Park and it was fourth time lucky as the Mako came away with the win 31-14.[31][32][33]

The Mako became just the second team to win back to back premiership titles, winning the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup. Hit hard by injury and without many players from their 2019 heroics the Mako were not as dominant in 2020 with heavy losses in the regular season to North Harbour (40-24), Auckland (31-10) and Canterbury (0-29). The Mako finished second on the premiership standings and came up against Bay of Plenty in the semi final at Trafalgar Park, coming away with the win 19-10. They qualified for their sixth final in eight years, coming up against Auckland at Eden Park. In what was a thrilling game the Mako came away with the win 12-13.[34][35][36]

Ranfurly Shield

Tasman has not held the Ranfurly Shield but Marlborough held the shield for six challenges in 1973.[37]

Tasman have been involved in just two Ranfurly Shield challenges since the union's inception in 2006.[38] Tasman lost their first challenge 26–20 at the hands of Wellington in 2008,[39] and their second challenge 49–40 to Taranaki in 2012.[40]

Season standings

The following is a summary of every season for the Tasman Mako since 2006. Position indicates the teams final position after the regular season only.

Year Position Played Won Drawn Lost Points Captain Head Coach Finals
2006 12th 920713Tiʻi PauloDennis Brown
2007 11th 1020812Alex Ainley
2008 7th 1141623Ben FranksTodd Blackadder Lost to Canterbury in quarterfinal
2009 9th 1360728Andrew GoodmanKieran Keane
2010 12th 1340920Chris Jack
2011 7th 1020813Andrew Goodman
2012 3rd 1150624 Lost to Otago in semifinal
2013 1st 12100236Shane Christie Beat Hawke's Bay in final, promoted to Premiership
2014 2nd 1281338 Lost to Taranaki in final
2015 3rd 1170435 Lost to Auckland in semifinal
2016 3rd 1281334Leon MacDonald Lost to Canterbury in final
2017 4th 1270531Alex Ainley Lost to Canterbury in final
2018 2nd 1190243David Havili Lost to Canterbury in semifinal
2019 1st 12120048Andrew Goodman Beat Wellington in final
2020 2nd 1290333 Beat Auckland in final

  Blue bar denotes Championship division
  Green fill denotes Cup winner

Bunnings NPC

Records and statistics

All Blacks

Players that have represented Tasman Mako in any fixture since their inception in 2006, and also played for the All Blacks.

  • # Represents the players 'All Black cap number'.
# Player Debut Caps
970 Caleb Ralph 1998 16
987 Greg Feek 1999 10
1003 Chris Jack 2001 68
1035 Brad Thorn 2003 60
1043 Rico Gear 2004 20
1046 Jimmy Cowan 2004 53
1056 Campbell Johnstone 2005 3
1084 Ben Franks 2008 48
1088 Isaac Ross 2009 8
1091 Wyatt Crockett 2009 72
1151 Liam Squire 2016 24
1152 Kane Hames 2016 10
1161 David Havili 2017 5
1162 Tim Perry 2017 8
1168 Atu Moli 2017 5
1172 Shannon Frizell 2018 13
1180 Tyrel Lomax 2018 6
1182 Sevu Reece 2019 8
1191 Will Jordan 2020 2


Players that have played 100 or more games for the Tasman Mako since their inception in 2006.[41]

  • # Represents the players 'Tasman Mako cap number'.
# Player Debut Caps
15 Robbie Malneek 2006 104
19 Alex Ainley 2006 100

Source: New Zealand Rugby History

50 or more

Players that have played 50 or more games for the Tasman Mako since their inception in 2006.

  • # Represents the players 'Tasman Mako cap number'.
# Player Debut Caps
6 Mark Bright 2006 52
7 Jonathan Poff 2006 63
15 Robbie Malneek 2006 104
19 Alex Ainley 2006 100
33 Andrew Goodman 2007 55
48 Quentin MacDonald 2007 89
60 Joe Wheeler 2008 80
81 Vernon Fredericks 2010 56
82 Shane Christie 2010 73
90 Kieron Fonotia 2011 72
104 Tim Perry 2012 70
113 Billy Guyton 2013 52
118 David Havili 2014 64
128 Alex Nankivell 2015 54
138 Finlay Christie 2016 53
140 Mitchell Hunt 2016 56
141 Andrew Makalio 2016 51

Source: New Zealand Rugby History

Top points scorers

# Player Club Points
1 Marty Banks Waimea 628
2 Mitchell Hunt Stoke 439
3 Andrew Goodman Nelson 291
4 David Havili Nelson 154
5 Robbie Malneek Nelson 125

Source: New Zealand Rugby History

Top try scorers

# Player Club Tries
1 Robbie Malneek Nelson 25
2 Will Jordan Nelson 22
3 David Havili Nelson 20
4 James Lowe Waimea 20
5 Andrew Makalio Harlequins 14

Source: New Zealand Rugby History


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  2. "Canadian development team to tour". The New Zealand Herald. 3 March 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  3. "2006 Air New Zealand Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  4. "2007 Air New Zealand Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  5. "2008 Air New Zealand Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  6. "Fans sign-up to save provinces". ESPN Rugby. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  7. "2009 Air New Zealand Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  8. "2010 ITM Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  9. "Tasman beat Canterbury for first time". RNZ. 21 August 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  10. "2011 ITM Cup structure". rugbyunplugged.com.
  11. "Historical standings". Mitre 10 provincial rugby. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  12. Fowler, Peter (2 August 2011). "ITM Cup: Tasman Makos beat Hawke's Bay Magpies at McLean Park". Hawke's Bay Today.
  13. "Tasman upset Auckland, again". Radio New Zealand. 17 August 2011.
  14. "Four new caps among 2011/12 Sevens squad". The New Zealand Herald. 19 November 2011.
  15. "New Zealand Sevens contracted squad named". allblacks.com. 25 January 2011.
  16. "2012 ITM Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  17. "Rugby: Tasman keen for more Canterbury loan". Otago Daily Times. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  18. "2013 ITM Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  19. "Tasman Makos reach promised land". ESPN Rugby. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  20. "2014 ITM Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  21. "Taranaki crowned Champions of New Zealand". ESPN Rugby. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  22. "2015 ITM Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  23. "2016 Mitre 10 Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  24. "2017 Mitre 10 Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  25. "Tasman Makos qualify for their third premiership rugby final in four years". Stuff.co.nz. 22 October 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  26. "New season, new look for Tasman Makos". Stuff.co.nz. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  27. "Tasman Rugby Union logo revised after widespread public criticism". Stuff.co.nz. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  28. "2018 Mitre 10 Cup". Tasman Mako. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  29. "20 Mako earn 2019 Super contracts". Tasman Rugby. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  30. "Tasman rugby: it's Mako, not Makos". The Spinoff. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  31. "Rugby: Tasman complete perfect season with win over Wellington in Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final". The New Zealand Herald. 26 October 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  32. "Champion Tasman Mako to be honoured with Key to the City" (Press release). Nelson City Council. 30 October 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  33. "From rags to riches: Tasman complete 14-year journey". Marlborough Weekly. 30 October 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  34. "Tasman Mako go back to back". mitre10cup.co.nz. 28 November 2020. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  35. "Tasman Mako win tense Mitre 10 Cup final against Auckland". stuff.co.nz. 28 November 2020. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  36. "Tasman coach Clarke Dermody admits Mitre 10 Cup final win over Auckland was 'ugly'". stuff.co.nz. 28 November 2020. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  37. "The day Marlborough roared". Stuff. 27 July 2013.
  38. O'Connell, Tim (1 August 2019). "Tasman throw down challenge against Otago - with or without Ranfurly Shield". Stuff.
  39. "Rugby: Wellington dice with Shield misery". The New Zealand Herald. 27 September 2008.
  40. Alexander, John (3 September 2012). "Tireless Tasman left heartbroken". Stuff.
  41. "Bitter-sweet milestone for Robbie Malneek in 100th Tasman outing". stuff.co.nz. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2020.