Otago Rugby Football Union

The Otago Rugby Football Union is the official governing body of rugby union for the Otago region of New Zealand. The union is based in the city of Dunedin, and its home ground is Forsyth Barr Stadium. The top representative team competes in the ITM Cup, New Zealand's top provincial competition. The union was to have been liquidated in March 2012.[2][3] However a deal involving the Dunedin City Council allowed it to keep operating.[4]

Otago Rugby Football Union
Logo Otago Rugby Union.svg
SportRugby union
Founded1881; 139 years ago (1881)
AffiliationNew Zealand Rugby
PresidentRichard Kinley [1]
Official website
New Zealand

Otago were the holders of the Ranfurly Shield after winning it from Waikato in a 23–19 victory in Hamilton on 13 October 2018.[5]


The union was founded in 1881, celebrating its 125th year in 2006. Since the inception of the National Provincial Championship (NPC) in 1976, Otago have won the competition twice, in 1991 and 1998. Furthermore, since playoffs were introduced, Otago have made the final on six occasions and the semi-finals on 11 occasions.

In Ranfurly Shield performance, Otago have won 36 of 74 shield matches, with only Auckland and Canterbury having a better record.[citation needed]

Otago made two more NPC Division 1 finals since their last title in 1998, both in 2001 and 2005 finishing runners-up on both occasions.

After 2005, the NPC was revamped into the Air New Zealand Cup, which as of 2017 is known as the Mitre 10 Cup. Four new teams were promoted from the NPC Second Division into the Air New Zealand Cup. Otago had another season reaching the semi-finals, losing to Waikato 44–15 at Waikato Stadium.

2007 began with a 68–7 defeat to Wellington in the capital. Otago would win five matches to reach the quarter finals where they were beaten by Canterbury 44–6 in Christchurch.

2008 saw Otago win four of their ten matches. However Otago would be the only team to defeat Wellington (36–21) during the regular season. Otago finished 10th in 2009 and Otago finish 10th once again with five wins from thirteen matches.


2010 saw a new adopted name as Otago would be known as "the Razorbacks". However Otago won two of thirteen matches and finished with the wooden spoon.

2011 would see Otago placed in the reformatted championship. 2011 was a significant year for Otago with the team playing its final season at Carisbrook before the mid-season relocation to the Forsyth Barr Stadium. Also Otago's Tony Brown would play for the Razorbacks. Otago began the season defeating North Harbour 46–29 at Carisbrook. The following week Otago created history by defeating Auckland 32–25 at Eden Park. It was Otago's first win at Eden Park since 1976. Otago started with just as many wins as they had all of the 2010 ITM Cup season. Otago would play Southland in the teams final ever game at Carisbrook, losing 19–12 to the Stags.

Manawatu were supposed to be Otago's first new opponents at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. Bad weather however would postpone the game to later in the season. Otago played Canterbury in the teams' first game at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Canterbury won 29–16 in front of a crowd of 14067. Otago defeated Manawatu 28–20 to finish 3rd position in the championship.

2012 started with news that Otago had over $2 million in debt. The ORU faced liquidation and having their 130 years of existence in jeopardy. However the Dunedin City Council were able to reach a deal allowing Otago to continue on. Otago would win five of ten matches and reach the Championship semi-finals where they defeated Tasman 41–34. In the Championship final Counties Manukau was too strong running out 41–16 winners.

2013 began with an opening round win over Bay of Plenty. Otago in the following week defeated Waikato 26–19 in Hamilton to claim the Ranfurly Shield. It was the first time the shield had come to Otago since 1957. Otago's shield fever was short lived as Hawkes Bay would win 20–19 over Otago the following week. Otago would go on to win four more matches including one over Auckland. Otago would reach the Championship semi-finals for the second consecutive year, however it was Hawkes Bay who were once again victorious winning 29–24. Otago finished 3rd.

2014 was a bit of a downfall for Otago. They beat North Harbour (28-14), Southland (33-22) and Waikato (38-7).

2015 Otago finished 3rd in the premiership with wins against Taranaki (34-27), Wellington (37-36), Southland (61-7), North Harbour (39-32), Northland (54-36) and Bay of Plenty (43-30). Wellington ended their premiership dreams with a 34–14 win in the semi final

2016 bought Otago some good, they beat Southland (40-17), Wellington (44-21), Northland (33-28), Bay of Plenty (33-32), Tasman (30-27), North Harbour (24-13), Manawatu (21-14), They beat Bay of Plenty in the Semi finals (27-20) but sadly North Harbour crushed Otago's premiership dreams by beating Otago (17-14)

2017 has been good for Otago as they have made the semi finals, having beaten Manawatu (40-30), Hawke's Bay (64-21), Auckland (34-26) and Southland (43-19). Their Premiership dreams were ended once again but this time by Bay of Plenty (32-48)

2018 saw Otago beat Manawatu (17-50), Northland (27-23), Southland (24-43), Auckland (29-34), Bay of Plenty (45-34) and ended the round robin by winning the Ranfurly Shield against Waikato (19-23).[5] Otago defeated Hawke's Bay in a home final 20–19 but lost to Waikato in the Championship final 36–13.[6]

The 2019 preseason will see Otago in two Ranfurly Shield challenge matches — the first against 2018 Heartland Championship champions Thames Valley and the second against neighbours North Otago. The first challenge saw the Razorbacks defeat Thames Valley 41–21 in a gutsy display from the visitors.[7]

The 2019 Mitre 10 Cup commenced with Otago losing away to Bay of Plenty on 11 August. On 17 August Otago played against rivals Southland at Forsyth Barr Stadium in a duel where the Ranfurly Shield was at play. Otago retained the Shield convincingly in a 41–22 victory.[8]


On 27 February 2012, it was announced by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union that the Otago Rugby Football Union would be put into liquidation on 2 March 2012. According to the NZRFU, the negative equity held by the ORFU amounted to more than NZ$2 million.[2] It was subsequently announced that the liquidation was to be put on hold until 16 March 2012.[3] On 15 March 2012, a deal was struck between the union and the Dunedin City Council that allowed the union to continue operations.[4]

Club rugbyEdit

Clubs within the union are split into two groups, Metro and Country. Clubs include:


  • Alhambra Union RFC
  • Brighton RFC
  • Dunedin RFC
  • Eastern RFC
  • Green Island RFC
  • Harbour RFC
  • Kaikorai RFC
  • Pirates FC
  • Southern RFC
  • Taieri RFC
  • University RFC
  • West Taieri RFC
  • Zingari – Richmond RFC


  • Alexandra RFC
  • Arrowtown RFC
  • Clinton RFC
  • Clutha RFC
  • Clutha Valley RFC
  • Clyde Earnscleugh RFC
  • Crescent RFC
  • Cromwell RFC
  • Heriot RFC
  • Lawrence RFC
  • Maniototo RFC
  • Matakanui Combined RFC
  • Owaka RFC
  • Roxburgh RFC
  • Strath Taieri RFC
  • Tapanui RFC
  • Telford RFC
  • Toko RFC
  • Upper Clutha RFC
  • Wakatipu RFC

Mitre 10 CupEdit

Otago in Super RugbyEdit

From the start of the Super Rugby competition in 1996, Otago was one of three unions (along with Southland and North Otago) to comprise the Highlanders, and Otago players traditionally formed the bulk of the Highlanders' playing squad.

This changed in 2010 with the move to direct-contracting for Super Rugby teams, meaning that Otago players are free to sign with any of the New Zealand-based teams. Despite this change, in the 2011 Super Rugby season all Otago players in the competition were still playing for the Highlanders. However, due to the recent struggles of Otago and an influx of players from other areas, Otago players no longer represent the majority of the Highlanders' playing personnel.

2019 Super Rugby playersEdit

International players (recent)Edit

Records and honoursEdit

Individual and team recordsEdit

  • Most points: 1520 — Greg Cooper
  • Most tries: 73 — Paul Cooke
  • Most points in season: 279 — Greg Cooper (1991)
  • Most tries in season: 16 — John Timu (1988, 1990), Paul Cooke (1995), Brendan Laney (1998)
  • Most conversions in season: 50 — Greg Cooper (1988)
  • Most penalty goals in season: 54 — Greg Cooper (1989)
  • Most drop goals in season: 9 — Lindsay Smith (1986)
  • Most points in a match: 39 — Paul Turner (1986)
  • Most individual tries in a match: 5 (by four players)
  • Most conversions in a match: 14 — Paul Turner (1986)
  • Most penalty goals in a match: 7 — Greg Cooper (1989, 1991), Blair Feeney (2002)
  • Highest score: 91 — v East Coast (1986)
  • Biggest winning margin: 85 — 88–3 v North Otago (1983)
  • Biggest losing margin: 43 — 19–62 v Canterbury (2001)
  • Most points against: 63 — v Auckland (1993)

100+ matchesEdit


  • NPC/Air New Zealand Cup/ITM Cup Champions (2)

1991, 1998.

  • Ranfurly Shield (4)

1935–38 (8), 1938 (5), 1947–50 (18), 1957 (1), 2013 (0), 2018–present (6).


  1. ^ Staff on ORFU website
  2. ^ a b "ORFU to be put into liquidation". Otago Daily Times. 27 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Otago rugby union buys more time for rescue". Stuff.co.nz. 9 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b "New stadium millstone saved Otago union". Stuff.co.nz. 15 March 2012.
  5. ^ a b Hepburn, Steve (13 October 2018). "Otago win Ranfurly Shield". Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Waikato bounce back to the Premiership". 26 October 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  7. ^ Pearson, Joseph (13 July 2019). "Otago battle hard to see off spirited Thames Valley in tough defence of Ranfurly Shield". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  8. ^ Cully, Paul (17 August 2019). "Mitre 10 Cup: Otago defend Ranfurly Shield against Southland". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 17 August 2019.

External linksEdit