The Tasman Rugby Union was formed in December 2005 to allow the region to field a team in the premier 2006 national provincial competition (then known as the Air New Zealand Cup).
The “Mako”, as the Union’s team is known, was an amalgamation of the Nelson Bays and Marlborough Rugby Unions, thereby becoming New Zealand’s newest provincial union.
Nelson is The Home of Rugby in New Zealand, being where the first ever competitive rugby match took place in May 1870 at The Botanics between a Nelson College side and Nelson Football Club.
The Nelson Bays Rugby Sub-Union, founded in 1969 and whose representative team is known as “The Griffins”, is in itself an amalgamation of the Nelson and Golden Bays Rugby Unions founded in 1885 (becoming the nation’s sixth provincial union) and 1920 respectively.
The Marlborough Rugby Sub-Union, founded in 1888 and known as the “Red Devils”, has a proud rugby heritage including holding the storied Ranfurly Shield for six defenses in 1973.
Our two venues are Lansdowne Park in Blenheim, which was completely revamped in early 2006 to meet NZRU standards, and Trafalgar Park in Nelson which underwent a major upgrade to secure the hosting of two matches in the 2011 RWC and which was largely completed in time for the 2010 NPC season, now known as the Mitre 10 Cup.
As a national provincial union, we are a feeder to the Crusaders Super Rugby franchise based in Christchurch. Our players however are also represented in the Highlanders, Chiefs and Blues.
The Tasman Makos won the 2013 ITM Championship Cup and in 2014 contested the ITM Cup Premiership Division final, and the 2016 and 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Division finals.
The major competitive breakthrough for the Union came in December 2018 with the winning of the National Sevens Championship title in Taupo, and in October 2019 with the Tasman Mako being crowned the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership winners after an Undefeated 12 game season. The Mako went back-to-back winning the 2020 Premiership Cup with a thrilling 13-12 victory against favourites Auckland..
These teams were superbly captained by David Havili under the coaching helm of Andrew Goodman & Clarke Dermody, Shane Christie & Gray Cornelius.
The team continues to capture the hearts and minds of fans locally, nationally and beyond, by playing an adventurous brand of rugby.
On-field performance has also been reflected in the numbers of Mako players receiving Super contracts, consistently now at about 20 players per season, and the numbers going on to earn higher representative honours including All Blacks Sevens, Maori All Blacks and All Blacks selection.
Since 2016, ten players have played Test rugby for New Zealand – Liam Squire, Kane Hames, David Havili, Tim Perry, Shannon Frizell, Tyrel Lomax, Atunaisa Moli, Will Jordan, Ethan Blackadder & Finlay Christie.
None of these achievements would be possible without a vast array of financial support, from NZ Rugby, our Sponsors, Members and season ticket purchasers, and our community trust fund and gaming fund partners.
After 14 years of existence, the Tasman Rugby Union is successful and innovative, aspiring to be a Top 4 national provincial Union, by any criteria.