Proudly Supporting Tasman Rugby

Union History

BACKGROUND – A RECENT HISTORY BASED ON A PROUD HERITAGE 

The Tasman Rugby Union was formed in December 2005 as an amalgamation of the Nelson Bays and Marlborough Rugby Unions, thereby becoming New Zealand’s newest provincial union.

The newly formed Union assumed responsibility for the delivery and administration of grass roots rugby at junior level schools & clubs and senior clubs across the top of the South Island (Te Tau Ihu) from the Marlborough and Nelson Bays Rugby Unions.

The Marlborough Union had been founded in 1888. Known as the “Red Devils”, Marlborough rugby has a proud heritage including holding the storied Ranfurly Shield for six defences in 1973-4.

The Nelson Bays Union aka “the Griffins” was founded in 1968, itself an amalgamation of the Nelson and Golden Bays-Motueka Rugby Unions. Nelson had been founded in 1885 (becoming the nation’s sixth provincial union) and Golden Bays-Motueka in 1920.

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.

COMMUNITY RUGBY – LOOKING AFTER THE GRASS-ROOTS.

The Union’s Charter is to provide an infrastructure and environment that fosters the perpetual development and enjoyment of rugby within the Tasman region. The game comes first, everything else comes second.

The Union manages the delivery and administration of grass roots rugby for 220 teams at 33 affiliated schools and clubs in the region, a total of 6,100 players and 50 referees. Rugby is the region’s leading team sport.

This is achieved by a small but dedicated team of employed managers, rugby development officers and administrators based in Nelson and Blenheim.

REPRESENTATIVE RUGBY – PROVIDING A PATHWAY TO A BLACK JERSEY

The Union also facilitates pathways and development for participants to achieve higher honours including Marlborough, Nelson Bays & Tasman age grade and senior teams, Tasman Mako men & women teams, Super Rugby and NZ representation.

In its short history the Union has locally developed ~

  • 7 All Blacks
  • 11 Maori All Blacks
  • 8 All Black Sevens
  • 13 NZ Under 20’s
  • 9 NZ Secondary Schools
  • 3 Black Ferns Sevens

This pathway and development was especially fulfilled in September 2018, when the Tasman Rugby Union and the City of Nelson hosted the First Ever All Blacks Test in Nelson at Trafalgar Park. The Test against Argentina was played in front of a Sold Out 'pop up' stadium of 21,404 all-seated fans. Two local Tasman players featured in the All Blacks 46-24 victory - Shannon Frizell who started at blindside breakaway, scored a try and was named man of the match, and loose head prop Tim Perry who came off the bench.