​​​​​​​O U R    H I S T O R Y



Rugby in Hawke's Bay started in 1875 when the then Napier Football (Soccer) Club changed to adopting rugby rules. By 1878 Napier, calling itself Hawke's Bay, arranged matches with Gisborne on a regular basis.

The Hawke's Bay Rugby Union was formed in 1884 at a meeting of delegates from four clubs Napier, Union, Hastings, and Petane. Hawke's Bay administrators, Ernest Hoben and Francis Logan, were instrumental in the formation of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 1891 with Hoben, a Napier journalist who moved to Wellington, becoming the first secretary and Logan, a Napier lawyer, became a member of the inaugural three-man appeal committee who also served as the first New Zealand selectors.​​​​​​​

Hawke's Bay was instrumental in the revival of interest in Ranfurly Shield creating what's become known as "shield fever" in the 1922-27 reign under wily coach Norman McKenzie. The Union also briefly held the Ranfurly Shield in 1934 having two successful defences, again under McKenzie's stewardship.  It later had another long period with the shield from 1966-69 under Colin Le Quesne. Hawke's Bay during these times and throughout its 128-year history has produced some of the nation's most influential players.

In 1926, led by legendary All Black forward Maurice Brownlie with his brother Cyril and fellow All Blacks Alex Kirkpatrick, and "Bull" Irvine in the pack, Hawke's Bay boasted a backline of All Blacks from halfback Jimmy Mill through first five Lance Johnson, second five Bert Cooke, centre Jackie Blake, wings Bert Grenside and either utilities Lui Paewai or Tommy Corkill and fullback George Nepia, that beat Wairarapa 77- 14, Wellington 58-8, and Auckland 41-11.​​​​​​​

In 1934 the Shield was won and defended on two occasions.  Luminaries from that era included All Blacks, Tori Reid, Bill Collins, Hawea Mataira, Albert (“Snow”) Bowman, Doug Dalton and a fine player later to make his mark as the coach of the outstanding 1960s team, Colin Le Quesne.

Another All Black legend, flanker Kel Tremain, led Hawke's Bay in the 1960s era with fellow All Blacks Ian MacRae, Bill Davis, Blair Furlong, Neil Thimbleby and Mick Duncan in support. In all Hawke's Bay have produced 50 All Blacks who wore the famous Black jersey while currently representing the Magpies, the first being Hiroa Tiopira in 1893 and the latest being Brad Weber in 2019.  In addition, the likes of All Blacks such as Matthew and Greg Cooper, John Timu, Stu Forster, Taine Randell, Josh Kronfeld, Roger Randle, Richard Turner, Greg Somerville and Campbell Johnstone all gained their development in Hawke's Bay age-group rugby.​​​​​​​

Hawke's Bay won the Air New Zealand NPC second division championship in 2001, 2002, 2003, were beaten finalists in 2004 and were the last champions of the second division in 2005 prior to gaining entry to the new Air New Zealand Cup competition. In 2006 Hawke’s Bay finished ninth in its return to top level domestic rugby, the best of the promoted unions from the old second division.

In the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons the Hawke’s Bay Magpies were the rugby story of the year in making a semi final of the Air New Zealand Cup each of those years, a huge achievement.

The success of those campaigns has also meant that the Union is once again producing All Blacks with Hika Elliot (2008, 2010), Bryn Evans (2009), Zac Guildford (2009 - 2012), Israel Dagg (2010 - 2016), Brodie Retallick (2012-2019), Ben Franks (2013), Gareth Evans (2018) and Brad Weber (2019) proudly wearing the famous black jersey on behalf of our Union.  Dagg and Guildford also represented their country with distinction when the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup in 2011 after a 24 year hiatus, thus becoming the first current Magpie representatives to play at that great event.​​​​​​​

The 2013 year was a huge one for this proud Union. The Magpies won and lost the Ranfurly Shield after a 44 year wait and were narrowly defeated in the Final of the Championship of the ITM Cup. The 2014 year was even better that the year before.  The Ranfurly Shield was won back from Counties Manukau and successfully defended in fine style against, Otago, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Southland.  The latter being a thrilling 20 - 20 draw season finale.  The hosting of the All Blacks versus Argentina Test Match was also a major highlight.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

2015 saw the Magpies reign with the Ranfurly shield continue hosting and successfully defending it against Wairarapa Bush, Horowhenua Kapiti, Mid Canterbury, Northland, Nth Harbour, BOP and Auckland before relinquishing it in the last home match against Waikato where a couple of controversial calls didn’t go the Magpies way. This though was a great tenure for modern day shield rugby with 11 defences which saw the public of Hawkes Bay reignited and right behind their team. The 2015 season was capped off in style with a home final against Wellington where young Magpies winger Mason Emerson scored in the corner in the dying minutes with Ihaia West kicking the conversion from the side line to win the game 26-25 and the ITM Cup Championship.

​​​​​​​2016 and 2017 won't go down as great years for the Magpies but 2018 saw a lot of young and talented players emerge from the Hawkes Bay Rugby Academy and into Magpies jerseys what many envisage to be a team with lots of promise. They reached the Mitre 10 Cup semi finals only to be pipped in overtime by Otago. Gareth Evans earned his first All Black cap and Ash Dixon, Brad Weber, Jonah Lowe and Ben May were all selected for the Maori All Blacks​​​​​​​. 2019 was promisingly with Brad Weber earning a much deserved recall to the All Blacks to become our Union’s 50th All Black.  

2020 was a season which saw the Magpies team start to mature becoming Mitre 10 Cup Championship winners also winning and retaining the Ranfurly Shield for the summer. This season saw many milestones including being undefeated at McLean Park, defeating Canterbury for the first time in 38 years and captain Ash Dixon playing his 100th game for Hawke's Bay. 

2021 was an exciting season, seeing the Magpies winning 9 of 11 games. The Magpies retained the Ranfurly Shield, which will remain in Hawke's Bay for the summer. This season also saw many milestones, with the Magpies winning away in Wellington for the first time since 1977, and winning in Christchurch for the first time since 1968! We also had 11 debuts this season:​​​​​ Dennon Robinson-Bartlett, Gene Syminton, Ereatara Enari, Elijah Martin, Kienan Higgins, Josh Gimblett, Frank Lochore, Dennis Tapusoa, Danny Tusitaal, Lolani Faleiva, Tiaki Fabish