Canterbury Rugby Football Union

Union New Zealand Rugby Union
Founded 1879
Location Christchurch, Canterbury Region, New Zealand
Region Crusaders
Ground(s) AMI Stadium (Addington)
Coach(es) Scott Robertson
Captain(s) Luke Whitelock
League(s) Mitre 10 Cup
Women's Provincial Championship
2016 1st
Team kit
Official website

The Canterbury Rugby Football Union (also referred to as "Canterbury" or "CRFU") is the governing body for rugby union in a portion of the Canterbury Region of New Zealand. Its colours are red and black in a hooped design. The CRFU govern the running of the Canterbury representative team which have won New Zealand's first-tier domestic competition National Provincial Championship (Air New Zealand Cup and ITM Cup) 12 times including a "six-peat" from 2008 to 2013 – with five in the National Provincial Championship, two in the Air New Zealand Cup, and four in the ITM Cup. Their most recent victory was the 2015 competition.[1] Canterbury also acts as a primary feeder to the Crusaders, who play in the Super Rugby competition.

The union is coached by Scott Robertson. The union also administers all club rugby within the region, including senior club rugby and school rugby.

Canterbury are the current holders of the Ranfurly Shield having won it off Waikato on 28 September 2016 after a 29–23 victory in Hamilton.[2]


The Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) was established in 1879 following a match between South Canterbury and North Canterbury in Timaru. The meeting took place on 26 July 1879, where delegates representing Christchurch, Christ's College, Temuka, North Canterbury (Rangiora), Eastern (Christchurch), South Canterbury (Timaru), Ashburton, and Southbridge clubs decided to form the union.[3] The impetus to form the CRFU was mainly provided by Montague Lewin, who had emigrated from England to Christchurch in 1873, and lobbied for local football clubs to adopt the rules of England's Rugby Football Union. He succeeded in getting Canterbury clubs to adopt the rugby rules in 1876, but a visit by an Australian Victorian Rules football team in 1879 prompted him to push for the formation of a union.[4][5] It had been initially proposed that the new organisation be the New Zealand Rugby Union, but this was rejected and the Canterbury Rugby Football Union was formed. Canterbury was the first provincial union within New Zealand, with the Wellington Rugby Football Union was formed later that year.[3] By 1890 fourteen provincial unions had been founded within New Zealand.[6] As well as being the oldest union within New Zealand, the CRFU was actually founded before one of the Home Unions – the Welsh Rugby Union was founded in 1881.[3]

A Canterbury representative side had played prior to the formation of the CRFU, but the first provincial game in New Zealand played under the authority of provincial unions took place on 27 August 1881. Canterbury hosted an Otago side that triumphed by a try to nil.[7] The first rugby match at Lancaster Park was played the following year[8] – a ground that would be the home of Canterbury rugby until the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[9]

Despite being instrumental in forming the CRFU, in 1888 the South Canterbury clubs broke off to form the South Canterbury Rugby Union[10] – this comprised Timaru, Fairlie Creek, Geraldine, Temuka, Waimate, Winchester, and Timaru Pirate clubs. The occurred only a few years prior to the formation of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (later shortened to New Zealand Rugby Union, or NZRU) in 1892. The CRFU had originally voted to join the NZRU in 1891, but when time came to ratify the agreement in 1892, they resisted following reluctance from their members.[11] Along with the Otago and Southland provinces, the CRFU objected to the requirement that NZRU executive committee members reside in Wellington.[11] South Canterbury had joined the NZRU, and the provinces representative sides did not meet in 1893. As well as this, players from Canterbury were not eligible for selection in the 1893 New Zealand team that toured Australia.[12] The CRFU eventually relented, and in 1894 joined the NZRU; both Otago and Southland joined the following year.[12][5] When New South Wales toured New Zealand in 1894, Canterbury players were now eligible for selection for New Zealand, and the CRFU hosted the only game between the sides which was played at Lancaster Park.[12]

In 1904 a sub-union of the South Canterbury Rugby Union was formed around the Ashburton area – the Ashburton Country Rugby Union. In 1905 it came under the umbrella of the CRFU, but split away to become completely independent in 1927. It was renamed the Mid Canterbury Rugby Football Union in 1952.[13]


1977, 1983, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016.

1927–28 (1), 1931–34 (15), 1935 (4), 1950 (0), 1953–56 (23), 1969–71 (9), 1972–73 (2), 1982–85 (25), 1994–95 (9), 2000–03 (23), 2004–06 (14), 2007 (1), 2009 (4), 2010–11 (2), 2016–present (0).

Other representative teams

In addition to the Men's 1st XV, the CRFU has a number of other representative teams for both Men and Women. Their Women's team is part of the Women's Provincial Championship.

Club rugby

The Country Cup is the premier club competition over the Canterbury Country region. The region includes clubs from the Ellesmere and North Canterbury sub-unions and the Mid Canterbury Rugby Football Union. Players who compete in this tournament are eligible for selection in the Canterbury Country representative team.

It is a 19 team competition with teams divided into two sections, ten teams in section 1 and nine teams in section 2. It is a round robin format, with every team playing each other once and a bonus points system being used to rank the teams. The top four sides from each section go one to the quarter-finals, and the winners from these go to the semi-finals – the two winners then compete for the Cup in the final.

Hawkins Cup

The Hawkins Cup is the premier club competition of the Metropolitan sub-union. There are currently three divisions under the Hawkins name, as well as a fourth division, a colts, and a classics grade. All formats are similar and the trophies include the Trophy, Plate and Bowl.

Division One has twelve teams competing in 2013 competition. Each team plays one another once in a round robin format that lasts eleven rounds. The top side at the end of the round robin receives the Hawkins Cup. Following the Cup competition, the teams are divided into two sections, with the top six teams in one section, and the bottom six in the other. Each section then plays a round robin of five matches. The top four teams from division one then enter a play-off for the Trophy; the bottom two teams from division one and the top two from division two enter a play-off for the Plate; and the bottom four teams from division two enter a play-off for the Bowl.

The Second Division operates under a similar format to Division One, with a full round robin to determine the winner of the Cup, before splitting into two divisions that eventually compete for the Trophy, Plate, and Bowl. The Premier Colts operates under a double round robin format; the winner is awarded the Cup. The teams are split into three based on their rankings following the double round robin; the top four teams compete for the Trophy in a set of play-off matches. The teams ranked fifth to eighth compete for the Plate.


The Canterbury Union consists of 48 clubs, the most of any other New Zealand Union, split into three sub-unions, Ellesmere, North Canterbury and Metropolitan.

There are 16 clubs in the Ellesmere Sub-Union.

  • Banks Peninsula RFC
  • Burnham RFC
  • Darfield RFC
  • Diamond Harbour RFC
  • Dunsandel/Irwell RFC
  • Kirwee RFC
  • Leeston RFC
  • Lincoln RFC
  • Prebbleton RFC
  • Rolleston RFC
  • Selwyn RFC
  • Sheffield RFC
  • Southbridge RFC
  • Springston RFC
  • Waihora RFC
  • West Melton RFC

North Canterbury:
There are 14 clubs in the North Canterbury Sub-Union.

  • Hanmer Springs RFC
  • Amberley RFC
  • Ashley RFC
  • Cheviot RFC
  • Culverden RFC
  • Glenmark RFC
  • Kaiapoi RFC
  • Hurunui RFC
  • Ohoka RFC
  • Oxford RFC
  • Saracens RFC
  • United RFC
  • Waiau RFC
  • Woodend RFC

There are 18 clubs in the Metropolitan Sub-Union.

  • Belfast RFC
  • Burnside RFC
  • Christchurch FC
  • High School Old Boys RFC
  • Hornby RFC
  • Linwood RFC
  • Lyttelton RFC
  • Marist Albion RFC
  • Lincoln University RFC
  • Merivale RFC
  • New Brighton RFC
  • Otautahi RFC
  • Parklands RFC
  • Shirley RFC
  • Suburbs RFC
  • Sumner RFC
  • Sydenham RFC
  • University RFC

Current squad

The Canterbury squad for the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup.[14][15]





Loose forwards

Halfbacks (Scrum-halves)

First five-eighths (Fly-halves)


Midfielders (Centres)

Outside Backs

(c) Denotes team captain, Bold denotes player is internationally capped and denotes a player is currently injured.

All Blacks

This is a list of players who have represented New Zealand from the Canterbury representative rugby union team. Players are listed by the decade they were first selected in and players in bold are current All Blacks.


See also


  1. Robson Toby (27 October 2013). "Cantabs tame Lions to win sixth straight title". Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  2. Burnes, Campbell (28 September 2016). "Rugby: Canterbury beats Waikato to claim Ranfurly Shield". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 Gifford 2004, p. 27.
  4. Gifford 2004, p. 26.
  5. 1 2 Early rugby in Christchurch.
  6. Ryan 1993, p. 16.
  7. Gifford 2004, pp. 29–30.
  8. Gifford 2004, p. 30.
  9. Canterbury rugby.
  10. South Canterbury rugby.
  11. 1 2 Gifford 2004, p. 32.
  12. 1 2 3 Gifford 2004, p. 33.
  13. Mid Canterbury rugby.
  14. "2016 Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup squad announced". CRFU. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  15. "Canterbury coach Scott Robertson includes Sharks player in 41-man squad". Rugby Heaven. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.


External links

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