Rugby has always been important to the people of Helensville and its surrounding districts.  A rugby club had existed in some shape or form for many years before the Helensville Districts’s Rugby Football Club was formed in 1970.

Rugby was first played in Helensville in the late eighteen hundreds.  The first organised game was played in 1890 when North played South Helensville at the old Showgrounds, opposite the site of Kaipara Dairy Company factory.

In 1900 the Auckland Rugby Union recorded that the Kaipara Union was affiliated with three clubs – they were Helensville, Kaukapakapa and Te Pua..  They had little success as a union and although they tried again in 1905 there were continual difficulties until the union became firmly established in 1912.

Active clubs at this time were Waimauku, Helensville and Kaukapakapa.  Parakai affiliated in 1913.

In the 1920’s the competition developed between teams from Parakai, Waimauku, Glorit, Kaukapakapa, Riverhead, and three teams – Pirates, Power Board and Helensville – from the township of Helensville.

The star player of those days was Peter Olsen who played for the Maori All Blacks on their 1926-27 tour of Australia, Ceylon, France, Britain and Canada.  Other players of note in the early 1900’s were Burt Fletcher, Ross Sellers, Harold Pengelly and Charlie Keane.

Kaipara linked up with North Auckland in 1921 and was affiliated directly with that union until 1926 and was to be associated with it for a further seven years after that.  Games were played for the Harding Shield, with the team traveling from Auckland to Whangarei on coastal boats.  Later when the railway was put through to the North they were able to travel directly by train through to Whangarei.

Kaipara players to represent North Auckland in this period were:

Fletcher C.J.        Waimauku        1921-22-23-24-26  Played  7

Fletcher H          Waimauku        1921-22-25-26-30              18

Kerr-Taylor L      Waimauku        1922                                  3

Pengelly H          Helensville        1922-25-26                        3

Wightman G        Waimauku        1922-23-24                        6

Rhodes L            Waimauku          1924                                  1

Olsen O.S          Helensville          1925                                  1

Sellars R            Helensville          1930                                  4

In 1927 Kaipara won the Brake Shield which was awarded to the top junior team in North Auckland.

During 1927 the Kaipara Sub Union was granted permission to play in the Auckland Rugby Union competition.  Permanent transfer was allowed in 1933.  Teams that played in the sub union from the 1930’s on were Helensville, Parakai, Woodhill, South Head, Kumeu, Kaukapakapa, Silverdale, East Coast Bays and Albany.

Play continued in this competition until 1961 when the sub union was disbanded.  The Helensville area then came under the jurisdiction of the Western United Club and played in the Auckland Competition.

While maintaining their Helensville Identity and organisation the teams of that decade played in Western United’s colours.  Initially only boys’ teams were catered for, but in 1969 a senior team was established, coached by Jock McLeod.  This team quickly established a reputation in the Auckland 2nd Grade Competition.  In 1970 it won the Peter Mackie Trophy, presented by the Referee’s Association, for adherence to the rules and spirit of the game.


In 1970 Helensville had a Sub Committee on the Western United Committee.

This Committee with Rob Bowman (Chairman) Tony Taylor (Secretary) Paddy Howlett (Treasurer) plus, Barry Coles, Pat Robertson and Jock McLeod.  They were approached by Western United who explained that they could not afford to supply the jerseys and footballs anymore and suggested that Helensville form their own Club.

From the Public meeting held at the Helensville primary School, a motion was put to form a new Club to be called The Helensville District Rugby Football Club  (H.D.R.F.C.)

A Steering Committee was formed chaired by Ray Lovell,  Secretary Greg Blair, Treasurer Barry Coles – Committee was Bill Evans, Alan Hargreaves, Allan Pengelly, Noel Bodle, Pat Robertson, and Sheree Lupton.  Patron was Jack Farrell.

Greg Blair designed the Logo of a Phoenix Bird rising from the ashes – signifying its rebirth and John Pyatt wrote the Club’s Constitution.

The first General Committee Meeting was held in the old Boiler room in 1971 and other Members were, Margo Robertson, Bill Evans, Ron Hall, J Haines, Philip Hill, Cliff Lane, Howard May, Malcolm Pickering, Ron Robinson and Lyall Strong.

Coaches were also Committee Members. Being Brian Dunphy, P. Downer, Alan Hargreaves, R. Hobson, M King, P McDonald, Jock McLeod, Kelvin Paton, Allan Pengelly, Tom Raha and L. Tibbits.

The next meetings moved to the comfort of Hinemoa House

With it’s affiliation to the A.R.U. Helensville had it own rugby club again.  The Committee applied to register it’s colour as red, (the jersey of Helensville Old Boys of the past) but it was rejected by the A.R.U. as being too similar to that of the Barbarian Club.  The Union, however, accepted our new established colour of red, gold and black which are based on the Western United pattern.


Following the inaugural meeting, it was noted in the HELENSVILLE RECORDER that “Grade games are to start on 17 April.  A game has been arranged against a Whangarei Club at 12.30 at Rugby Park, on Saturday, March 20 and other friendly games before the season starts.  A weigh-in will be held at schools – over 80 boys have already been weighed.

These results were recorded for games played on 24th April 1971 at Rugby Park

Seniors      20                        Eden              18

4th Grade      6                        Takapuna      6

7th Grade    36                        BayLynn      6

10th Grade    3                        Western Utd  6

13th Grade  28                        Northcote      0

Even then Helensville players were having to contend with not only strong opponents from Auckland but also factors beyond their control.

“Ground conditions after heavy rain were really bad, we were told.

The H.D.R.F.C with only a limited number of players spread over a wide area to draw on, has consistently fielded teams from Junior Boys to Seniors.

As the Rugby Park had been sold to the Helensville Borough Council for 90 Pounds on the demise of the Kaipara Sub Union a lease was arranged for its use.

The ground was leveled and drained and over the years further improvements have been made so that it now provides a playing surface for games when many other grounds are closed.

The Senior teams have enjoyed some Notable successes in the early years, including:

·        Winning the ARU Cup (1972) -  winners of Senior C

·        Portola Trophy (1975, 1976)  -  winners of the Senior 3rd Division First Round

·        Jordan Rosebowl (1974)      -  awarded to the Senior team that shows the best  adherence to the rules and spirit of the game.

As a result it was promoted to higher division each time going from Second Grade to Senior C and then to Division B

Club teams to win their grades in the ARU competition have been the

·        Sixth Grade – 1972

·        Seventh Grade – 1971

·        Eight Grade – 1974

·        Ninth Grade - 1970

The 1971 Team, coached by Jock McLeod and Managed by Bob Pera, had many still familiar faces, of Greg Blair, Joe Panui, John Smith, Elu Elisia, Neville Rust, Barry Coles, Ian Bristow, Murray Narbey, Phillip Nehemia, Grant Chisholm, Jim Fletcher, Colin Hissey, Malcolm Pickering, Lawrence Stokes, Lyall Strong, John Glasson, Kevin Bayliss and Fred Peters and were Runners-up in the 2nd Grade and in 1972 Won the Senior ‘C’ competition and were promoted into Senior ‘B’ competition.

In 1975 the Senior Team won the Portola Trophy in a Home Game against Hillsborough 26-6. The day the Champagne really flowed!!!

The First Clubrooms were built in 1948.  They were in a state of disrepair and the players and committee had to endure a leaking roof and drafty interior.  Work on the new facility was started in 1972 and it was officially opened in 1974.  The new clubhouse was extended in 1976 and again in 1980 with the addition of extra changing rooms.  The final stage, that of the extensive lounge area was completed in 1985.

In 1982 two 84ft lighting towers were erected to provide for night games. The NHRU withdrew its support from these games and they are now used to light only the training area.  Other high rise developments have been the raising of goal posts equal in height to Eden Park’s.

On 28th July 1984, North Harbour Rugby Union was given N.Z.R.F.U. approval for Form and in 1985 Helensville joined the Big Boys of Takapuna, North Shore, Northcote, Western United, East Coast Bays, Silverdale, Glenfield, Navy and Massey Clubs to play its first year in the North Harbour Union.

Since the formation of the North Harbour Rugby Union in 1985 the H.D.R.F.C.  has seen two members of the HDRFC elected to the executive.

  • Allan Pengelly          Vice President and President
  • Alan Hargreaves      Deputy Chairman
In 1987 the Helensville Club purchased the two fields it presently uses from the Helensville Borough Council for $30,000.  The funds being raised by selling 25year Memberships for $1000 each.  The move to buy the fields was made after the Council threatened to give League one of the fields, despite the fact that the Helensville Club had been footing the bills for all the field drainage and improvements over the years, plus thousands of hours of voluntary work by Club Members.

In 1990 the Club started to become competitive again with the start of the famous Mini Bus Era.

In 1991 Frank Bunce played for Helensville, immediately being selected for North Harbour then for Western Samoa for the 1991 World Cup.

Mathew Vaea returned from the World Cup to play for Helensville as the competitive edge built up.

In 1993, the Senior Team won Davenports Trophy, beating Takapuna 10-6 in the final.  The Team went on to beat Northcote in the North Harbour Plate Final for a fifth placing in the North Harbour Senior Competition.  The Club is now a Sevens Champion, winning the North Harbour Sevens in 1994, 1995, and 1996 as well as various other Sevens Competitions such as Glenfield, Papatoetoe and Mt Maunganui.

In 1996 the Helensville Timber Sevens Team won the North Harbour Sevens, The Davenports Trophy for the Minor Premiership and was beaten 29-8 by Takapuna in the North Harbour Grand Final.  The Helensville Senior Team was beaten by North Shore in the semi-finals of the 1997 club competition .

In more recent times, the Helensville Rugby Club has fielded some very competitive Senior teams making the Quarter Finals and Semi Finals, but not the Grand Final (Yet).  The Club has continued to evolve around the Helensville Community spirit and adopted the nickname of The “Ville: as a name that the Community can associate with and feel related to, so come and join The “Ville” as a player, Supporter or Committee Person.

Our Members come from far and wide to join The “Ville”.  You can purchase a “Ville” Membership Ticket for $50, playing and non playing, which, if paid before the end of May includes entry into five weekly draws of $500 for 1st, $300 for 2nd, $125 for 3rd and $75 for 4th.  A grand total of $5000 of cash prizes and you do NOT have to be in the Clubrooms to collect the cash.


For many years the Trades Tournament was a highlight of the local rugby scene.  In fact it was quite an event on the social scene of Helensville as families and supporters gathered to cheer on their respective teams.

The Keane Shield must rank as one of the more unusual trophies in New Zealand.  It is contested annually in a game played between Helensville and the Auckland Referees.

…..and the first game was held in 1927.

This game has been played at the end of every season since the club started.  While it takes some time for teams to be formed on the day – there is always a debate as to the marital status of some team members – the game is always keenly contested.

Barry Coles considered that every father would enjoy a chance to play with their sons – an opportunity denied previous generations who seemed to retire when overtaken by family duties.  In 1989 he donated a trophy to be contested in an annual game played between a combined team of Fathers and Sons and a Presidents team drawn from the clubs Grades teams including Seniors.

The Lancaster Cup is competed for annually in the first round game played between the Seniors of Helensville and Western United.  This trophy commemorates Gordon Lancaster who was a prominent member of the Western United team that won the Auckland Senior B Championship in 1969.  Gordon Lancaster, playing as captain in a game on Eden Park in 1975, collapsed and died as a result of concussion.

It was noted in the HELENSVILLE RECORDER on 17 March 1971 that

“A street stall on March 12th raised $120 for the club, and players had held a very successful fund raising evening and a Working Bee on Rugby Park.  There will be another one next Sunday 21st March at Rugby Park from 9.00am onward”

So began a history of working bees to reform the grounds and rebuild the clubhouse.  In those days players would battle through a game on Saturday, celebrate through the night, and then rouse themselves on Sunday morning to toil on the current project.  While it was a demanding schedule the Working Bees did result in a greater camaraderie among the players than is usual and some close friendships were formed through working together.

When is came to building projects the club was fortunate to have among its members a large number of carpenters and a range of other trades.  Their voluntary efforts allowed the club to develop a larger facility then allowed for by our finances.