Hurricanes (rugby union)

Last updated

Wellington Hurricanes logo.png
Union New Zealand Rugby Union
Nickname(s)The 'Canes
Location Wellington, New Zealand
Region East Coast
Hawke's Bay
Horowhenua Kapiti
Poverty Bay
Ground(s) Sky Stadium (Capacity: 34,500)
Coach(es) Jason Holland
Captain(s) Ardie Savea
Most caps TJ Perenara (140)
Top scorer Beauden Barrett (1238)
League(s) Super Rugby
Super Rugby Aotearoa
Super Rugby Trans-Tasman
2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa
Super Rugby Trans-Tasman
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Team kit
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2nd kit
Official website

The Hurricanes ( /ˈhʌrɪknz/ HURR-ik-aynz; [1] formerly the Wellington Hurricanes) is a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Wellington that competes in Super Rugby. The Hurricanes were formed to represent the lower North Island, including the East Coast, Hawke's Bay, Horowhenua Kapiti, Manawatu, Poverty Bay, Wairarapa-Bush, Wanganui and Wellington unions. They currently play at Sky Stadium (formerly named Westpac Stadium), having previously played at the now-defunct Athletic Park. [2]


The Hurricanes had a poor first season in 1996's Super 12, but rebounded in 1997 with a third placing. The team did not reach the play-offs for another five years as they struggled in the bottom four of the table. Since 2003 the Hurricanes have made the post-season play-offs seven times out of fourteen seasons, including the 2006 final, which they lost in foggy weather against the Crusaders 19–12. After hosting but failing to win the final in 2015, the 2016 season was the Hurricanes' best season to date. They won the final 20-3 against the Lions, after again finishing the regular season first and hosting the final.


Early years: 1996–1997

The Hurricanes were formed in 1996 as one of five New Zealand Super 12 teams, and were originally called the Wellington Hurricanes. The team's first coach was former All Black Frank Oliver, while Bull Allen was named as captain. Their first match, played at Palmerston North Showgrounds against the Auckland Blues, was the first ever Super 12 match. They lost it 36–28. The team performed below expectations in the inaugural year of the competition and finished ninth. In 1997 the team made the semi-finals, losing in Canberra to the ACT Brumbies. However the consistent form shown during this season would not be seen again for many years.

Expect the unexpected: 1998–2002

Following their 1997 season, the Hurricanes failed to qualify for the semi-finals until 2003. Despite this, they were still known for the attacking nature of their backline that included the All Blacks stars Tana Umaga and Christian Cullen. The team played with flair and could score at any moment, whatever their position on the field, giving rise to the teams catch cry of 'expect the unexpected'. However the team struggled for consistent performances and at crunch time in matches, leading to patchy form and results.

After the 1999 World Cup, Jonah Lomu's contract with the NZRU expired he was linked to many clubs around the world, in rugby league as well as union and also the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. [3] On 23 November 1999 it was announced that the winger had re-signed with the NZRU and agreed terms with the Wellington Rugby Union, despite a reported a £1.1 million offer by Bristol. [3] [4] The move to the Wellington union meant he could be included in the protected group of players for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes also opened 2000 with a new stadium. The highlights of that year included the victory over eventual champions the Crusaders, 41–29, in front of a packed house. At the end of the season the 'Canes still had a mathematical chance of making the semis and only had to beat the Bulls to stay in contention. However, the Hurricanes played one of their worst games of the year, losing the match to one of the worst performing teams at that point in the competition's history and lost the possibility of qualifying for the semi-finals. The team finished eighth on the table.

Despite the Wellington Lions (whom most of the Hurricanes squad were chosen from) winning the 2000 NPC, [5] the Hurricanes finished ninth in the final standings in 2001; one worse than the year before. Another ninth placing in 2002 resulted in Graham Mourie, who had led the team since 2000, resigning. [6]

New era: since 2003

The Hurricanes playing the Highlanders at Wellington Regional Stadium in 2006 Hurricanes vs Highlanders.jpg
The Hurricanes playing the Highlanders at Wellington Regional Stadium in 2006

In spite of reports that Colin Cooper, the then Crusaders assistant-coach, had said he was "not yet ready to jump ship" and wanted to stay with the South Island franchise, [7] the Hurricanes were able to lure him away from the champions and made him their head coach for the 2003 season.

Cooper, along with newly appointed captain Tana Umaga, helped to mould the inconsistent and ill-disciplined Hurricanes into one of the top teams in the competition. [8] 2003 was the beginning of a new era for the Hurricanes as they reached the semi-finals for just the second time in their history on the back of a strong seven-game winning streak mid-season. Their success came partly with the break-out year for mid-fielder Ma'a Nonu, his strong performances and partnership with captain Tana Umaga pushed out former All Black Pita Alatini and saw him score six tries en route to the All Black squad. The team also benefited from the steady hand of David Holwell at first five-eighth and an improving and mobile forward pack. Hurricanes stalwart Christian Cullen would leave New Zealand shores for Irish club Munster after his omission from the All Blacks 2003 World Cup squad, despite scoring eight tries during the season.

All Black great Jonah Lomu was left out of the 2004 squad, due to a life-threatening illness that would eventually result in a kidney transplant. He would never again play for the Hurricanes.

The majority of the team was retained< for 2005. [9] including new centre Conrad Smith. [10] The Hurricanes came back in 2005 to the form that saw them make the playoffs two years prior. Former New Zealand Colt Flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth was the real "find" of the season, scoring 139 points, which helped offset the departure of David Holwell to Ireland. The Hurricanes had tried to sign Australian playmaker Brock James, who had starred the previous NPC season for Taranaki [11] and the Blues, and young star Luke McAlister indicated that he would like to play in Wellington. [12] With both Daniel Carter and Aaron Mauger at the Crusaders capable of playing first five-eighth the team also made an attempt to lure Andrew Mehrtens to Wellington, without success.

In 2006 two new teams entered the competition, the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs from South Africa and the Perth-based Western Force from Australia, creating the Super 14. Rodney So'oialo was appointed captain of the Hurricanes to succeed former All Black captain Tana Umaga. [13] The team won all but four matches. They made their first Super Rugby final but lost to the Crusaders in a match played under thick fog. Following the match there was an incident in a nightclub involving Chris Masoe and Tana Umaga. The club finances benefitted from on-pitch success, with NZ$1.36 million profit on its 2006 turnover of NZ$7.44 million.

The Hurricanes returned to the semi-finals in both 2008 and 2009, however were unable to capture the same success in subsequent seasons. [14] 2011 saw the arrival of Mark Hammett as coach and the departure of Andrew Hore, Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu.

The Hurricanes finished 11th in the 2013 Super Rugby season.

2015 saw the Hurricanes finish first in the regular season, topping the table with 66 points and a win-loss record of 14–2 in round robin play. The Hurricanes picked up the New Zealand Conference trophy after beating the Highlanders. After beating the Brumbies in the semi-final, the Hurricanes lost the final against the Highlanders 21–14. It was the final Super Rugby match for Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush – all Hurricanes that have played over 100 caps.

On 8 December 2015, Rugby World Cup-winning hooker Dane Coles was named captain for the 2016 season. Rugby World Cup-winning halfback TJ Perenara was named as vice-captain. [15]

2016 was a big year for the Hurricanes finishing first overall on the points table, despite sitting in 7th going into the final round of the regular season. This saw them go into the quarter finals against the Sharks winning 41-0 at Wellington Regional Stadium. They carried on to the semi finals playing the Chiefs and winning 25-9 at Wellington Regional Stadium. The Hurricanes played the Lions in the final, winning the game 20-3 at Wellington Regional Stadium. This was the first time in Super Rugby history that the Hurricanes won the title. It was Victor Vito's final and 100th game for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes looked to win another championship title in 2017, taking out 12 of 15 games and making it to the quarter finals against the Brumbies, which the Hurricanes won 16-35. However, in the semi finals they were defeated by the Lions, who they defeated in the 2016 final.

In 2018, the Hurricanes won 11 of 16 round robin matches, which put them into the quarter finals against a very tough Chiefs side. The Hurricanes narrowly defeated the Chiefs 32-31. But once again, the Hurricanes failed to make it past the semi finals, losing to the Crusaders 30-12

2019 saw the Hurricanes win 12, draw 1 and lose 3. This result took them to the quarter finals and they faced the Bulls, which was tight but the Hurricanes won 35-28. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes lost to the Crusaders again in a tight battle in Christchurch (30-26)

After 7 rounds of 2020, the Hurricanes finished 3rd in the NZ conference and 6th overall. The competition was suspended after 7 rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a domestic Super Rugby competition was formed in New Zealand called Super Rugby Aotearoa, which kicked off in June 2020. The Hurricanes finished 3rd overall, winning 5 and losing 3. A notable moment from the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Aotearoa 2020 was that they ended the Crusaders' 18 match home winning streak, defeating them 32-34 in Round 7.

Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 hasn't been so fortunate to the Hurricanes. They have only won one match, which was a 30-19 victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin.


Super 12/14 (1996–2010)


1997, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009

Super Rugby (2011–present)

2015, 2016



Home Grounds and Franchise Area


The Hurricanes play the majority of their home matches at the 34,500 capacity Sky Stadium (formerly named Westpac Stadium) on Wellington's waterfront. The stadium is affectionately known as The Cake-Tin due to its distinctive shape. It was opened in 2000 to replace Athletic Park, where the team had been previously based.

Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North and McLean Park in Napier have also played host to Hurricanes home matches. In the initial years of the competition the Hurricanes played once, or occasionally twice, away from their Wellington base depending on whether they had home five or six games per year. However, in recent years, the team has seldom ventured from Sky Stadium, playing at-most one match per year in Palmerston North or Napier.

Wellington Palmerston North Napier
Sky Stadium Central Energy Trust Arena McLean Park
Capacity: 40,000Capacity: 15,000Capacity: 22,000
Westpac Trust stadium viewed from Wadestown.jpg Fmgstadium.JPG McLean Park, Napier.jpg


The team represents the East Coast, Poverty Bay, Hawke's Bay, Wanganui, Manawatu, Wairarapa-Bush, Horowhenua-Kapiti and Wellington unions. In 2013, Taranaki severed its ties with the club, signing its allegiance to the Chiefs in the hope of attracting Chiefs home matches to New Plymouth. [16]

Ownership and Finances

In 2012, it was announced that a new company, Hurricanes' Investment Ltd Partnership, had purchased a license from the NZRU to operate the club. [17]

Whilst the NZRU retains ownership of the team, as well as control of the contracts of the players and head coach, the licensee is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations. Hurricanes' Investment Ltd Partnership is a joint venture between the Wellington Rugby Football Union owning 50 per cent of shares with the remaining 50 per cent held by a consortium of private investors, led by noted economist and author Gareth Morgan. [17]

Development team

The Hurricanes 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 Hurricanes Hunters [18] or Hurricanes Development XV, the squad is selected from the best emerging rugby talent in the Hurricanes catchment area and is composed of Hurricanes contracted players, wider training group members, under 20s, and selected club players. [19] [18]

Season-by-Season summary

C=Champions, R=Runners-up, S=Semi-final Appearance, Q=Qualifying-final Appearance
(Brackets Represent Finals Games)
1996 Super 12 season 113089 / 12 Frank Oliver Bull Allen
1997 Super 12 season 11 (1)6 (0)0 (0)5 (1)3 / 12
1998 Super 12 season 115068 / 12
1999 Super 12 season 1141610 / 12 Norm Hewitt
2000 Super 12 season 116058 / 12 Graham Mourie
2001 Super 12 season 115069 / 12 Gordon Slater
2002 Super 12 season 115069 / 12
2003 Super 12 season 11 (1)7 (0)0 (0)4 (1)3 / 12 Colin Cooper Tana Umaga
2004 Super 12 season 1141611 / 12
2005 Super 12 season 11 (1)8 (0)0 (0)3 (1)4 / 12
2006 Super 14 season 13 (2)10 (1)0 (0)3 (1)2 / 14 Rodney So'oialo
2007 Super 14 season 136078 / 14
2008 Super 14 season 13 (1)8 (0)1 (0)4 (1)4 / 14
2009 Super 14 season 13 (1)9 (0)0 (0)4 (1)3 / 14
2010 Super 14 season 137158 / 14 Andrew Hore
2011 Super Rugby season 165299 / 15 Mark Hammett
2012 Super Rugby season 1610068 / 15 Conrad Smith
2013 Super Rugby season 16601011 / 15
2014 Super Rugby season 168087 / 15
2015 Super Rugby season 16 (2)14 (1)0 (0)2 (1)1 / 15 Chris Boyd
2016 Super Rugby season 15 (3)11 (3)0 (0)4 (0)1 / 18 Dane Coles
2017 Super Rugby season 15 (2)12 (1)0 (0)3 (1)5 / 18
2018 Super Rugby season 16 (2)11 (1)0 (0)5 (1)4 / 15 Brad Shields
2019 Super Rugby season 16 (2)16 (1)0 (0)(1)4 / 15 John Plumtree Dane Coles

Results per opposition

Hurricanes Super Rugby results vs different opponents

Super Rugby
Flag of New Zealand.svg Blues 1996–2019331711551.5%
Flag of New Zealand.svg Chiefs 1996–2019361921552.8%
Flag of New Zealand.svg Crusaders 1996–2020381232331.6%
Flag of New Zealand.svg Highlanders 1996-2019331901457.6%
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Brumbies 1996-2020261201446.2%
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Force 2006-201711100190.9%
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Rebels 2011-2020870187.5%
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Reds 1996–201922160672.7%
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Waratahs 1996-2019231301056.5%
Flag of South Africa.svg Bulls 1996-2020221201054.5%
Flag of South Africa.svg Cheetahs 1997-20171180372.7%
Flag of South Africa.svg Lions 1996-201823190482.6%
Flag of South Africa.svg Sharks 1996-2020241211150.0%
Flag of South Africa.svg Southern Kings 2013-20162200100.0%
Flag of South Africa.svg Stormers 1996-201921901242.9%
Flag of Argentina.svg Jaguares 2016-2019430175.0%
Flag of Japan.svg Sunwolves 2017-20194400100.0%
Updated to: 15 March 2020

Current squad

The squad for the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season: [20] [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2]

Hurricanes Super Rugby squad




Loose forwards

Halfbacks (Scrum-halves)

First Five-Eighths (Fly-halves)

Midfielders (Centres)

Outside backs

(c) Denotes team co-captains, Bold denotes internationally capped, DEV denotes a development squad player, ST denotes a short-term signing, Injury icon 2.svg denotes a player ruled out for the season with injury.
  1. 1 2 3 Leger and O'Reilly weren't named in the original Hurricanes squad, but were announced in the side for Round 4. [21]
  2. 1 2 Roigard wasn't named in the original Hurricanes squad, but was announced as a late replacement in the side for Round 7. [22]

Current internationals

Former internationals



Hurricanes coaches by date, matches and win percentage*
Flag of New Zealand.svg Frank Oliver 1996–19994518126040.00
Flag of New Zealand.svg Graham Mourie 2000–20023316017048.48
Flag of New Zealand.svg Colin Cooper 2003-201010460341057.69
Flag of New Zealand.svg Mark Hammett 2011–20146429233045.31
Flag of New Zealand.svg Chris Boyd 2015-20187154017076.06
Flag of New Zealand.svg John Plumtree 2019181314072.22
Flag of New Zealand.svg Jason Holland 2020–present6402066.67
Totals (1996–present) * 3411947140056.89
Updated to: 15 March 2020


^* Official Super Rugby competition matches only, including finals.

Assistant Coaches


The above is a comprehensive list of Hurricanes captains. Official captains are named in the list as "Captain".

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  2. Amie Mills. "Cake Tin lacks a certain build-up to the game?". Victoria University of Wellington. Archived from the original on 3 March 2007. Retrieved 20 April 2007.
  3. 1 2 "Chase on for All Black Lomu". 6 November 1999. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  4. "Lomu joins Hurricanes". 23 November 1999. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
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  13. "New Hurricanes Captain". Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  15. "Coles, Perenara to lead 'Canes in 2016 | The Official Website of the 2014 Investec Super Rugby Hurricanes". Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  16. Canes hopeful of tempting Taranaki's finest
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Preceded by
Flag of New Zealand.svg Highlanders
Super Rugby Champions
2016 (First title)
Succeeded by
Flag of New Zealand.svg Crusaders