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|Ground(s)||Eden Park (Capacity: 50,000)|
|2012||2nd, Premiership Division|
The Auckland Rugby Football Union (ARFU) is the governing body for rugby union in a portion of the Auckland Region of New Zealand. Its colours are navy blue and white in a hooped design. The ARFU govern the running of the Auckland representative team which have won New Zealand's first-tier domestic competition National Provincial Championship (Air New Zealand Cup and ITM Cup) 16 times—more than any other team. Their most recent victory was the 2007 competition. Auckland also acts as a primary feeder to the Blues, who play in the Super Rugby competition.
The union administers all club rugby within the region, including the Gallaher Shield and other senior club rugby. As well, the union is responsible for school rugby.
Auckland has been the most successful union in New Zealand rugby history, having won a record 16 ITM Cup (and predecessor competition) titles. Auckland also holds the record for the most Ranfurly Shield wins (16), successful defences (148), and longest streak of successful defences (61). All Blacks statistics also reveal the extent of Auckland's influence: of the 1071 players to have worn the national jersey from 1888 to 2008, 133 were born in Auckland, compared to Christchurch (74), Wellington (60) and Dunedin (53).
In 1996, with the advent of professional rugby union, Auckland became the host, and primary feeder, to the Blues, known from 1996-1999 as the Auckland Blues.
Auckland were the first holders of the Ranfurly Shield in 1902 and have won 153 out of 194 shield matches – the most successful record of any provincial union. Notable periods include from 1905 to 1913, when they defeated 23 successive challenges, 1960 and 1963, when 25 challenges were defeated, 1985 to 1993, when a record 61 were defeated. Auckland most recently held the shield between 2007 and 2008, when 5 challenges were defeated.
National Provincial Championship
Auckland have won the ITM Cup (and predecessors, the NPC and ITM Cup) a record 16 times, most recently in 2007, including four times in succession between 1987 and 1990 and again between 1993 and 1996.
Auckland participated in the predecessor competitions to modern-day Super Rugby, the South Pacific Championship and Super 10, from 1986 to 1995, winning five consecutive titles from 1986-1990 and finishing runner-up to Transvaal in 1993.
Auckland went undefeated for six seasons from 1897, and there was an undefeated run in the early 1920s under Sir Vincent Meredith. The 1960 to 1963 period, known as the Golden Era, was summed up in The Golden Years written by Don Cameron in 1983. Sir Wilson Whineray, who captained Auckland through those years and the All Blacks in 30 tests from 1957 to 1965, describes the period as one of "excitement, drama and fervor that transformed Eden Park into an oasis of magic during the winters of 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963." The period from 1982 to 2007 is also regarded as a golden period, with Auckland winning more than half (16 out of 26 ) of all NPC titles and five South Pacific Championship titles during the era and winning the team of the year award at the 1992 Halberg awards.
- NPC/Air New Zealand Cup/ITM Cup (16):
1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007
- South Pacific Championship/Super 6/Super 10 (5):
1986, 1987 (shared with Canterbury), 1988, 1989, 1990
- Ranfurly Shield (16):
1902-1904 (0), 1905-1913 (23), 1934-1935 (1), 1952 (0), 1959 (2), 1960-1963 (25), 1965 (3), 1971 (1), 1972 (0), 1974-1976 (10), 1979 (6), 1985-1993 (61), 1995-1996 (3), 1996-1997 (6), 2003-2004 (2), 2007-2008 (5)
Other representative teams
In addition to the Men's 1st XV, the ARFU has a number of other representative teams for both Men and Women:
Among the earliest founding clubs in Auckland were Grafton (1874), Ponsonby (1874) and College Rifles (1897), Marist (1908), University (1888), Grammar (1914) and Suburbs (1918). The premier competition's championship round was renamed the Gallaher Shield in 1922, in memory of Ponsonby, Auckland and New Zealand player Dave Gallaher who captained the 1905 All Blacks, known as The Originals, before retiring after the tour. He became the sole selector to the Auckland team, leading the side to eight successive Ranfurly Shield wins, before he served on the All Blacks selection committee from 1907 to 1914. He then joined the army at a relatively late age, and was killed in the Passchendaele offensive in 1917 aged 43. His Ponsonby side has dominated the Gallaher Shield, winning it 33 times.
The Auckland Rugby Football Union consists of 20 clubs from the Auckland isthmus. The premier competition runs from March to August and is split into three segments: the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup from March to May (primarily a pre-season tournament), the Alan McEvoy Round-Robin, and the Championship Round (finals series).
- The Waka Nathan Challenge Cup and Pollard Cup
The Waka Nathan Challenge Cup is contested at the beginning of the season in a knockout style competition. Teams play for the cup and a winners prize of $2500. Winners of the first round progress to the next round of the Waka Nathan Cup, while the losers move to the plate section and compete for the Pollard Cup and a prize of $1000. Round two sees eight teams compete for the Waka Nathan Cup while the losing teams from Round 1 contest the Pollard Cup. From round two Premier Reserve teams will also follow their Premier team. Round three will be the semi finals for both sections. Clubs eliminated will have games organised for them by the ARFU for the following week against other eliminated clubs. The final for both the Waka Nathan and Pollard Cup will be played when the two finalists in each division meet each other in the Alan McEvoy Round Robin.
- The Alan McEvoy Round-Robin
The 16 teams entered into the Premier Competition play a 15 week round-robin, played on Saturdays. The team with the highest competition points at the end of this round will be awarded the Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy. To determine this, the bonus points system is used. Teams will be seeded 1-16 after this round. The Fred Allen Trophy is also be played for during the round-robin phase. It is similar to the Ranfurly Shield, where it is only up for grabs at home games of the trophy holder. It is not contested in the Championship Round.
- Championship Round
In the Championship Round the sixteen teams are split into the top and bottom eight. It is played over three weeks. The top eight compete for the Gallaher Shield, named after former Auckland and All Blacks player Dave Gallaher, while the bottom eight compete for the Portola Trophy. The first week is a quarter-finals style format where the top seeded team play the bottom seeded team and the second seeded team play the second to last seeded team etc. The four losers from each group of eight go on to play for the Jubilee Trophy (Gallaher Shield Losers) and the President's Cup (Portola Trophy Losers). The next week is semi-finals and the two winners compete for the four trophies mentioned, with the overall champion being the winner of the Gallaher Shield Final.
The union are one of three organisations (the others being Collegesport and the Secondary Schools Executive Committee) responsible for administering the local secondary school competitions. Notable rugby schools in Auckland include Auckland Grammar School, Kelston Boys High School, King's College, Mount Albert Grammar School and St Kentigern College. The 1st XV competition is split across three divisions, these being 1A, 1B and 1C. In addition to the 1st XV competition there a number of lower-grade (non-1st XV) and girls competitions.
The Auckland Rugby Union Supporters Club (ARUSC) was established in 1976 after a meeting between ARFU administration and a group of supporters. The club's emblem is the "Flying Elephant", which was agreed upon after a competition to find a mascot was found. The winner of the competition was Mr J.E. Hannan. The supporters club is currently located under the North (ASB) Stand at Eden Park.
The ARUSC also operates the Junior Rugby Foundation (JRF). The purposes of the organisation is to provide education, assistant and support for the promotion and development of participation by young people in rugby within the areas governed by the ARFU. Recent JRF bursary recipients include Liaki Moli, Sean Polwart and Tyrone Ngaluafe.