28 May – 22 August
NRU100 marks one hundred years since the establishment of the North Auckland Rugby Union, which was formed when the areas controlled by the Whangārei, Northern Wairoa, Bay of Islands, Otamatea and Hokianga rugby sub-unions combined as a major union.
The Northern Advocate in 1920 discussing the establishment said, “By giving this portion of the Dominion the status of a provincial union it should be possible to raise the standard of football and enable the north to compete with other recognised representative teams. It has been shown during the past season that the teams from this part of the Dominion can more than hold their own with any opponents, but as matters stand we can make no distinctive effort.”
There was clearly an expression of a region maturing and seeking independence. The “apron strings of Auckland should be cut,” it was said. Local debate ended with the name “North Auckland’ being the favoured name for the new union over “Northland” suggesting the strings weren’t to be totally discarded. (In 1994, North Auckland changed its name to the Northland Rugby Football Union.)
The union was officially affiliated to the New Zealand rugby Union in 1920.
Rugby has been played in the province from the 1870s on. The game has reached into most corners, most communities through the north. Changes in local organisation over the duration have matched the ebb and flow of societal and demographic change. What is constant though is that from the earliest beginnings the game has been a base of local community and region wide participation, identity and pride.
North Auckland played their first ever match as a union on August 3, 1920, in an 11-0 victory over South Island Country.
The first match against another union was against Auckland in July 27, 1922 with an 8-6 loss at Kensington Park in Whangārei.
The first win against another union was a victory over King Country 20-8 in August 1923.
New South Wales was the first overseas opposition with their 17-8 win in 1921.
In 1930 Britain became the first full international rivals. North Auckland went down 5-30.