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Chiefs (rugby union)

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Founded  1996
Top scorer  Stephen Donald (860)
Union  New Zealand Rugby
League  Super Rugby
Most caps  Liam Messam (144 caps)
Coach  Dave Rennie (Head coach)
Location  Hamilton, New Zealand
Captains  Aaron Cruden, Sam Cane
Chiefs (rugby union) New era for Chiefs as group granted franchise licence until 2020

Region  Bay of PlentyCounties ManukauKing CountryThames ValleyWaikatoTaranaki
Ground(s)  Waikato Stadium (Capacity: 26,000)
2016  Semifinalist3rd (New Zealand Conference)4th (Australasian Group)6th (overall)
Arenas/Stadiums  Yarrow Stadium, Waikato Stadium, Growers Stadium, Rotorua International Stadium

The Chiefs (formerly known as the Waikato Chiefs and officially called the Gallagher Chiefs for sponsorship reasons) are a professional rugby union team based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Their primary home ground is Waikato Stadium. The Chiefs play in black, red and yellow coloured jerseys. The team competes in the Super Rugby competition, previously known as the Super 12 from 1996 to 2005 and Super 14 from 2006 to 2010. The Chiefs are one of the competition's five New Zealand sides.


Chiefs (rugby union) The Chiefs to open the defence of their Super Rugby title against

Until 2004, the Chiefs were the only New Zealand side to never have qualified for the Super 12 semi-finals. In that year the Chiefs earned their first semi-final berth, and in the end achieved fourth place (defeated 37–20 in the semi-final by the ACT Brumbies). They subsequently made the 2009 final, but found themselves on the short end of a record 61–17 defeat by the Bulls.

Chiefs (rugby union) Super Rugby Sonny Bill Williams returning to Chiefs All Blacks

The Chiefs were rewarded with a home final after a strong 2012 season. Their opponents, the Sharks, went into the match as underdogs. The Chiefs defeated the Sharks 37–6, winning their first title. In 2013, the Chiefs became the fourth team in Super Rugby-history to record back-to-back title wins, when they defeated the Brumbies 27–22 in front of a full home crowd at Waikato Stadium.

Chiefs (rugby union) Chiefs rugby union


The Chiefs were founded in 1996 as the Waikato Chiefs for the inaugural Super 12 season in 1996. Prior to the Super 12, the Super 10 competition had been in place, which NPC teams took part in, including Waikato. In the first year of competition the Chiefs placed 6th in the overall standings, missing out on making the finals; winning 6 of their 11 regular season matches. The following season the Chiefs placed 11th, winning 4 games and losing 7. In 1998 the Chiefs performed closer to the standard of their 1996 season and placed at 7th in the final standings. In 1999 the side were able to do one better and claimed 6th position on the ladder but were still yet to make the playoffs.

In 2000 the Chiefs won 3 of their regular season games and finished the regular season in 10th place. The following season the team equalled their best position again – finishing 6th. In 2002 the team won 4 games and lost 7 to finish in 8th position, and the season after, 2003 Super 12 season, fell to a 10th-place finish. But the season after, the Chiefs won 7 regular season games and came 4th on the ladder – claiming the first semi-final spot in their history. The Chiefs lost the semi-final against the Brumbies. In 2005 the team finished 6th. In 2006, the Super 12 expanded to the Super 14, with the addition of a new Australian and South African club. The Chiefs won 7 of their 13 games and drew once with 5 losses to come 7th. In 2009, the Chiefs made their second ever semi-final, defeating the Hurricanes 14 – 10 to advance to the final for the first time. They lost the final to the Bulls by the biggest-ever margin of 61–17. In the 2010 and 2011 seasons, they were unable to replicate their form of 2009, missing the playoffs in both seasons.

In 2012, following the disappointing results of previous years, the Chiefs underwent a significant change in personnel. This included the recruitment of new coaches, including Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith, and players, including Aaron Cruden, Ben Tameifuna, Brodie Retallick and Sonny Bill Williams. The changes had an immediate impact as the Chiefs finished at the top of the New Zealand conference, qualifying for a home semi-final, which they won, defeating the Crusaders 20–17. They subsequently hosted the final for the first time in the teams's history, comprehensively defeating the Sharks by 37 – 6, claiming their first title. They also set many club records in the 2012 season, including: most home wins, best home streak, best season winning streak, and most points and tries scored.

In 2013, the Chiefs again won the New Zealand conference with a regular-season record of 12 wins and four losses. They also won the BNZ Cup, a new trophy established by the NZRU for the New Zealand side with the best record in intra-conference matches.

In 2016 the Chiefs played a touring Wales side, winning the one-off encounter 40-7. In doing so they became the first New Zealand Super Rugby franchise to defeat an international team.

Franchise area

Since 1999, the Chiefs have 'represented' the provincial unions of Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, King Country, Thames Valley and Waikato. In 2013, Taranaki changed its allegiance to the Chiefs, after severing ties with the Hurricanes, which it had been part of since 1996. From 1996 to 1998 the Chiefs also represented North Harbour and Northland, with Counties Manukau and Thames Valley falling under the Auckland Blues catchment. Had the Blues been allowed to represent the Auckland, North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Northland unions, they would have in effect been able to play a national team in all but name due to player contracting rules at the time. In an effort by the NZRU to make things more fair, the Chiefs were given North Harbour and Northland, while the Blues were given Counties Manukau and Thames Valley. By 1999, clear regional All Blacks dominance no longer existed, so the Chiefs arranged a swap with the Blues. North Harbour and Northland were "returned" to the Blues in exchange for Counties Manukau and Thames Valley.


The Chiefs are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZRU. However, in an effort to bring more capital into the sport, the NZRU established a system of privatised operation in 2013. In 2014, it was announced that a new entity, 'Chiefs Rugby Club Limited Partnership', had been established, with the NZRU granting the newly formed company a seven-year licence, until the end of the 2020 season, to operate the club. Chiefs Rugby Club itself is 50% owned by the provincial unions within the Chiefs' catchment and 50% by a group of private investors . As part of the Taranaki Rugby Union's investment, the Chiefs will hold two matches per year at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

Development team

The Chiefs have fielded a development team in competitions such as the Pacific Rugby Cup and in matches against other representative teams for several seasons. Known as the Chiefs Development XV, the squad is selected from the best emerging rugby talent in the Chiefs catchment area and is composed of Chiefs contracted players, wider training group members, under 20s, and selected club players.

Brisbane Global Tens

  • Champions (1)
  • 2017

    Current squad

    The squad for the 2017 Super Rugby season:

    Head coach

  • Dave Rennie
  • Assistant coaches

  • Andrew Strawbridge
  • Kieron Keane
  • Neil Barnes
  • Performance Analysts

  • Regan Hall
  • Mark Ray
  • Coaches

  • Brad Meurant (1996–97)
  • Ross Cooper (1998–2000)
  • John Mitchell (2001)
  • Kevin Greene (2002–03)
  • Ian Foster (2004–11)
  • Dave Rennie (2012-2017)
  • Colin Cooper (2018-)
  • Captains

  • Richard Turner (1996)
  • Ian Jones (1997)
  • Errol Brain (1998)
  • Michael Collins (1999)
  • Glenn Taylor (2000)
  • Deon Muir (2001–02)
  • Jono Gibbes (2002–08)
  • Mils Muliaina (2008–11)
  • Liam Messam (2011–15)
  • Craig Clarke (2012–13)
  • Aaron Cruden (2014–)
  • Brodie Retallick (2014)
  • Sam Cane (2016–)
  • References

    Chiefs (rugby union) Wikipedia