|Affiliation||New Zealand Rugby|
The North Harbour Rugby Union (NHRU), commonly known as North Harbour or simply Harbour, is the governing body of rugby union that encompasses a wide geographical area north of Auckland that includes North Shore City, Rodney District, the Hibiscus Coast and part of Waitakere City. There are 12 rugby clubs from Mahurangi RFC, based in Warkworth, Rodney District, in the north through to Massey the southernmost area of the union.
The NHRU provincial rugby team that was formed in 1985 by clubs that left the Auckland Rugby Union. It competes in the Mitre 10 Cup, the successor to New Zealand's former domestic competition, the National Provincial Championship (NPC).
North Harbour was formed in 1985 by clubs that broke away from the Auckland Rugby Union. The Hibiscus flower was chosen as the new union's logo in reference to part of the union's catchment area - the Hibiscus Coast.
The first side chosen to represent the union was an under 20 side who played Felbridge, a touring side from Britain. Grant Ferguson had the honour of scoring the union's first points via a penalty, with his captain, Alan McCulloch scoring the union's first try.
The union expanded in 1989 when the Omaha, Warkworth and Kaipara Flats clubs merged to become the Mahurangi club and switched from the North Auckland union.
North Harbour has enjoyed a great deal of success on the rugby field having produced All Blacks and other New Zealand Representative players, and also winning the 3rd division title in their first year, then promotion to NPC Division 1, and making the finals of the NPC competition on several occasions during the 1990s, and hosted the 1994 final at a capacity-crowd Onewa Domain against Auckland.
Onewa Domain, Northcote was the former home base for North Harbour rugby. North Harbour players play in the Super Rugby competition as part of the Auckland Blues partnership with the neighbouring Northland and Auckland unions. With the development of the North Harbour Stadium at Albany in the late 1990s, this stadium became the home base of Harbour rugby.
North Harbour play in the Mitre 10 Cup. In 2006 North Harbour were the first team to play the new Tasman Makos winning 33–27 in Blenheim. They would go on to win their next eight of ten games including an historical victory over Canterbury for the Ranfurly Shield. However they were beaten by Otago 21–56 in the quarter finals. 2007 was a year of disappointment for North Harbour. Waikato claimed the Ranfurly Shield with a crushing 52–7 over the holders North Harbour. The team would only win four of ten matches including two draws to miss the playoffs. North Harbour won only three matches in 2008 finishing 12th. 2009 was the same with North Harbour finishing 12th, however they defeated the champions Canterbury 22–19 in the opening round and beat Auckland 16–14 at Eden Park. In 2010 North Harbour beat Japan 23–19 to start their 25th Jubilee Celebrations. However the team managed only four wins to finish 11th. In 2011 the team finished 6th in the Championship, but nearly beat Southland 23–25 in a Ranfurly Challenge. 2012 and 2013 were disappointing years for North Harbour finishing last in the Championship with only one win to their seasons.
2014 was downfall for North Harbour, as they only won 3 games, against Manawatu (24-13), Canterbury (29-24) and Hawkes Bay (28-25)
2015 seemed the same for North Harbour, they won 3 games again, against Southland (26-25), Counties Manukau (28-20) and Northland (36-12)
2016 saw North Harbour get promoted up from the Championship division, beating Counties Manukau (20-17), Manawatu (29-25), Southland (35-14), Bay of Plenty (44-34), and Northland (44-28),They defeated Wellington in the semi final (40-37) and defeating Otago to be promoted to the 2017 Premiership (17-14)
In 2017, North Harbour won a lot of their games, beating Otago (19-17), Southland (45-20), their greatest Battle of the Bridge win against Auckland (57-10), Counties Manukau (27-18), Northland (22-31), Hawke's Bay (33-30), Waikato (13-11), They made the semi finals but did not beat Canterbury (35-24 loss)
2018 saw North Harbour beat Northland (21-20), Waikato (28-29), Bay of Plenty (32-30), Hawke's Bay (34-51), Taranaki (26-55), Counties Manukau (36-26).
North Harbour's first ten challenges for the Ranfurly Shield were unsuccessful, notably in 1996 when they challenged for it three times in 6 weeks against Taranaki, Waikato and Auckland. North Harbour succeeded in their eleventh challenge for the shield on 24 September 2006 by beating the previous holders Canterbury 21–17 at Jade Stadium in Christchurch.
Under the rules of the Shield challenge, they had to defend the Shield before the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup season against teams in New Zealand's second tier domestic competition, the semi-professional Heartland Championship. Accordingly, they scheduled defences against Thames Valley on 30 June 2007 and Horowhenua-Kapiti on 14 July. Harbour easily won their first defence 69–0 over Thames Valley, and followed it up two weeks later with a 99–6 victory over Horowhenua-Kapiti.
North Harbour in Super Rugby
North Harbour is one of three provinces included in the Blues franchise who play in the Super Rugby competition; their players are eligible to be picked by the Blues without relying on player drafting.
At the beginning of Super Rugby, North Harbour was part of the Chiefs franchise as a combined team of Auckland and North Harbour was thought to be unfair by the NZRU; Auckland and North Harbour collectively had a large percentage of the All Blacks of the time. Later however, North Harbour along with Northland were 'swapped' for Counties Manukau and Thames Valley, thus joined the Blues.
Club and high-school rugby
The North Harbour Club Rugby season runs annually from March through to the beginning of August. The premier title is fought for among senior teams for the right to be crowned North Harbour Club Rugby Champions. The winner receives the ASB Cup.
There are also 16 secondary schools fielding close to 100 teams within the North Harbour Region. Due to the ratio of secondary schools to rugby clubs, there is a strong relationship between the two.
Mitre 10 Cup
These are players who have played for North Harbour in the past and have gone on to play international rugby and accomplish other feats as listed:
- Todd Clever (USA Eagles captain)
- Liam Barry (former All Black, former Harbour Head Coach)
- Richard Turner(former All Black)
- Frano Botica (former All Black, former Kiwi League International and former Croatian International)
- Frank Bunce (former All Black, Western Samoa centre, New Zealand Sevens)
- Graham Dowd (former All Black hooker)
- Nick Evans (former All Black, rumoured to move to North Harbour but moved to Auckland instead, now playing for Harlequins in England
- Rico Gear (former All Black, now plays for Worcester Warriors)
- Hosea Gear (now plays for Wellington)
- Ian Jones (former All Black Lock)
- Blair Larsen (former All Black forward)
- Walter Little (former All Black second-five eight)
- Jonah Lomu (former All Black wing, moved to Wellington, left Wellington due to illness and eventual kidney transplant)
- Willie Lose (former Tongan international team captain and lock, now a TV & Radio personality)
- Slade McFarland
- Glen Osborne (former All Black fullback and Makakaho Rd Pig Hunting World Champion and rugby sevens commentator)
- Eric Rush (former All Black winger and Captain of NZ 7s
- Buck Shelford (former All Black captain and former North Harbour coach)
- Silao Leaega - Samoan International
- Tevita Taumoepeau
- Rua Tipoki (Captain 2005–06; first ever North Harbour captain to win Ranfurly Shield)
- Tusi Pisi & George Pisi – Samoan internationals
- Mike Harris (moved to Australia in 2011 and played for the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby competition and was capped ten times for the Qantas Wallabies. Now plays for Lyons in France.
- Francis Saili (former All Black second-five eight)
- Luke McAlister (former All Black and currently playing for Stade Toulousain)
- Tony Woodcock (former All Black Two-time Rugby World Cup winner, scorer of only NZ try in 2011 final – most capped All Black prop)
The Harbour Master is the official Mascot for the North Harbour Rugby Union, He is dressed in a naval captain's style suit with a large smiling head and carries with him at all times an oversized pair of binoculars.
2010 ITM Cup Appearances
- Harbour Vs Auckland 01/08 (Albany)
- Harbour Vs Otago 19/08 (Albany)
- Harbour Vs Waikato 04/09 (Albany)
- Harbour Vs Manawatu 26/09 (Albany)
- Harbour Vs Wellington 10/10 (Albany)
2010 Television Appearances
- This Given Sunday 12/09 (Rugby Channel – Sky TV, NZ)
- In 2008 The Harbour Master was involved in a tackle which resulted in the rival seagull mascot from Auckland breaking his leg.
- Link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpHkT27mVMU
- Photo http://www.harbourrugby.co.nz/mainmenu1/component/gallery/g98/QBE+Insurance+North+Harbour+vs.+Waikato+Sat+4+Sept/p899.html
Kit and sponsors
Apparel is supplied by Paladin Sports. Main sponsors are:
- QBE Insurance
- Jett's Fitness Centre
- North Harbour Ford & Mazda
- Ritchies Coachlines
- Pure Blonde (Lion)
- "The Early Days - harbour, the swatches and the hibiscus". North Harbour Rugby website. North Harbour Rugby. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
- ONE Sport (24 September 2006). "Ranfurly Shield heading North". TVNZ. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007.
- "North Harbour announces 2007 Ranfurly Shield defences". AllBlacks.com. 29 November 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
- Knight, Linsday (1 July 2007). "Rugby: Swamp Foxes frustrate fast-starting Harbour". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
- Knight, Linsday (15 July 2007). "Rugby: Spirited visitors have no answer". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
- "Rugby: Harbour welcome duo back". TVNZ Newstalk ZB. 11 July 2007. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007.