New South Wales Waratahs

Last updated

Waratahs logo.svg
Union Rugby Australia
Founded1882;138 years ago (1882)
1996;24 years ago (1996)
(first Super 12 match)
Location Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Region New South Wales
Ground(s) Sydney Cricket Ground
Western Sydney Stadium
Brookvale Oval
Hunter Stadium
Coach(es) Rob Penney
Captain(s) Rob Simmons
Most caps Benn Robinson (151)
Top scorer Bernard Foley (997)
Most tries Israel Folau (60)
League(s) Super Rugby
2019 3rd (Australian Conference)
12th (Overall)
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1st kit
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2nd kit
Official website
Rugby football current event.svg Current season

The New South Wales Waratahs ( /ˈwɒrətɑːz/ or /ˌwɒrəˈtɑːz/ ; [1] referred to as the Waratahs, are an Australian rugby union team representing the majority of New South Wales in the Super Rugby competition. The Riverina and other southern parts of the state, are represented by the Brumbies, who are based in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT).


The "Waratahs" name has historically been the name for the New South Wales Rugby Union (NSWRU) representative team, and became the name for the New South Wales team when it entered the Super Six, Super 10 and Super 12 competitions. The name and emblem comes from the waratah, the state flower for New South Wales. Until 2019, their home ground was Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney. With this closed for demolition and rebuilding, in 2019 home games will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Western Sydney Stadium.

Amateur era

NSW team of 1883 StateLibQld 1 109656 New South Wales Rugby Union Team, ca. 1883.jpg
NSW team of 1883

The NSWRU (or then, The Southern RU – SRU) was established in 1874, and the very first club competition took place that year. By 1880 the SRU had over 100 clubs in its governance in the metropolitan area. In 1882 the first New South Wales team was selected to play Queensland in a two-match series. NSW would go on to win both the games. That same year the first NSW touring squad was selected to go and play in New Zealand.

In 1907, several of the New South Wales rugby union team's players defected to play for the New South Wales rugby league team against a visiting rebel New Zealand rugby team. This was essentially the birth of rugby league in Australia.

The 1906 NSW team 1906 new south wales team.jpg
The 1906 NSW team

During World War I, the NSW (and QLD) Rugby Unions ceased senior competition. The Queensland body however would not reform until 1929, which saw NSW have more responsibilities for Australian rugby. In 1921 the Waratahs toured New Zealand again, and out of their 10 fixtures, won nine games, including the Test.

The most famous Waratah team was the 1927/28 Waratahs who toured the United Kingdom, France and North America, introducing a style of open, running rugby never seen before, but which has been the stamp of the Australian game ever since. They won 24 and drew two of their 31 official matches. Seven members of this 1927/8 side were from the Drummoyne Rugby Club. [2] Upon returning home, were greeted with a parade through Sydney and a reception at Town Hall. Matches against Queensland would soon resume also.

The 1930s were a particularly successful time for NSW. The height of the success of NSW is best represented by the defeat of the South African Springboks in 1937 at the SCG. NSW Rugby Union would also perform strongly throughout the following decades as well, which included the emergence of footballers such as Trevor Allan, David Brockhoff, Tony Miller, Nick Shehadie, Eddie Stapleton, Ken Catchpole, John Thornett, Peter Crittle and Ron Graham.

In 1963 the Sydney Rugby Union was established for the growth of the game in the city area. The NSW Rugby Union would celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1974. As part of the anniversary celebrations, a match was played at the SCG on 18 May against the All Blacks, though the Waratahs lost nil to 20.

Professional era

Super 12: 1996–2005

NSW Waratahs playing the ACT Brumbies Brumbies vs Waratahs.jpg
NSW Waratahs playing the ACT Brumbies

In their inaugural Super 12 season of 1996, the Waratahs won just under half of their games, finishing mid table, with the two other Australian teams finishing above them. The following season of 1997 saw the Waratahs end in a 9th place, winning four fixtures.

In the 1998 season the Waratahs won a best six out of 11 games, ending up in 6th position on the ladder at the end of the season, despite obvious improvements the team had still yet to make a finals appearance. The Waratahs won four fixtures the next season. They won five games in the 2000 season and the 'Tahs finished their season in 9th place.

In 2001 after replicating their 2000 performance, the Waratahs were still out of reach of finals contention, in 8th position. 2002 was a record breaking season for the Waratahs, as the team won eight out of their 11 season games and finished in second place behind the Crusaders – making the semis. However, in the final game of the regular season the Waratahs lost 96–19 (a Super Rugby record). They were defeated by their Australian rivals the Brumbies, 51–10, in the Waratahs' first ever semi-final. The combined score over the two weeks was Brumbies/Crusaders 147 v. Waratahs 29.

In the 2003 season the Waratahs missed a place in the finals, finishing in 6th position on the ladder at the end of the regular season. In 2004 the Waratahs made a promising start to their season with three straight wins. The team finished 8th on the Super 12 table, six points out of the finals. That year coach Ewen McKenzie re-introduced the end of season tour, taking place in Argentina that year. In 2005, they had their best regular season, finishing second in the table, before losing to the Crusaders in the 2005 Super 12 Final.

Super 14: 2006–2010

The Waratahs finished 3rd on the regular season table for the 2006 Super 14 season, in which two new teams entered the expanding tournament, the Force and Cheetahs. In the last home match of the regular season, the Waratahs hosted the Hurricanes, which they lost 14 to 29. The news that star league recruit Wendell Sailor had tested positive to an illegal substance and thus faced a career ending ban from the game was an unwelcome intrusion on the Waratahs semifinal build up. The following week, the semi-finals, they again faced the Hurricanes, though away in Wellington. The Waratahs made their exit, losing 16 to 14. Wendell Sailor later received a two-year ban from the game, marring a season that had promised so much. [3]

The 2007 Super 14 season was the most disappointing for the team and its supporters with the Waratahs winning only three games, against the lions, the wooden spoon winning Reds, and the Hurricanes in the final round gaining a final placing of 13th out of 14. Despite the poor performance the 2007 season saw the emergence of teenage rugby prodigy Kurtley Beale and proved to be a vital rebuilding stage in the Waratahs super 14 championship run.

The 2008 season began well for the NSW Waratahs, with solid pre-season wins and a solid opening game victory against the Hurricanes 20–3. The 'Tahs secured their 500th win since their formation in their Fourth Round match against the Brumbies. After starting the season in a slow but solid manner the 'Tahs began to play their best rugby in their mid season match with the Blues, scoring their first four try bonus point of the season. The Waratahs then continued on a roll finishing their home season with another impressive 4 try bonus point win against title front runners the Sharks, advancing to second place on the ladder. An average South African trip saw the team slip to third on the ladder after only notching up 3 competition points, due to a loss to the Bulls (7 or less BP) and a satisfactory draw against other title contenders the Stormers. The Waratahs faced the Reds in the final round with a win securing second place, combined with a home semi-final win over the Sharks, moved them up to their first Super 14 final against the Crusaders, which they later lost 12–20.

In the last two seasons of the Super14 format, the Waratahs failed to make the final on both occasions after narrowly missing the finals (on points difference) in 2009 and qualifying for the semi-final in 2010. They finished 5th and 3rd in respective years, losing to the Stormers in the semi-final of the 2010 season.

Super Rugby: 2011–present

Waratahs playing Brumbies in the 2012 Super Rugby Waratahs vs Brumbies at ANZ 7 2012.jpg
Waratahs playing Brumbies in the 2012 Super Rugby

In the 2011 season, the Waratahs again failed to reach the final. On this occasion, their season ended when they were eliminated by the Blues in the qualifying final after finishing 5th in the overall standings in the revamped competition. The following two seasons were very bleak by comparison. Coach Chris Hickey parted ways with the club at the end of the season with Michael Foley taking over the reins for 2012. The Waratahs finished well outside finals contention in 2012 in 11th place. This brought about another change in the coaching department with Michael Cheika for 2013. His impact was not immediate as the Waratahs failed to make the finals for a second consecutive season finishing 9th overall.

Championship season 2014

The 2014 season of the super rugby competition was undoubtedly the Waratahs greatest season so far. The Waratahs not only overcame the Curse of the Tahs, a commonly held superstition, but they were also able to post the greatest super rugby season yet. The second season under coach Michael Cheika saw a new expansive style of rugby implemented which gave birth to exciting running rugby, bringing dwindling crowds back in force with home games averaging at around 19,152 people in attendance .

The running intent of Michael Cheika was quickly revealed after the team saw two fly halves announced in the starting game against Western Force. The Waratahs opening match not only saw Kurtley Beale’s return, scoring one try and having a hand in several others, but it was also a showcase to reveal the Tahs new weapon; Israel Folau. Israel highlighted Michael’s intent scoring a hat-trick of tries in what was soon to be a season of all-out attack by the Waratahs. Not only did the Waratahs score the most points in the opening match out of any team with a 43-21 score, but they also had the second largest winning margin of 22 points.

The Waratahs went on to win the Australian conference with 13 more points than the team that came in at second place, the Brumbies, and came in as the number one team 7 points ahead of the competition. The Waratahs were in the driver’s seat advancing straight through to the semi-finals; the club's 8th semi-final appearance. After the Brumbies defeated the Chiefs 32-30, the Brumbies advanced to compete against the Waratahs. The Waratahs displayed a show of force in their performance against an in-form Brumbies team, decimating them 26-8 granting the Waratahs a home final. The final, held at Stadium Australia, was host to 61,823 spectators who bore witness to one of the greatest spectacles of sport. With two tries a piece, six penalties each, and the Crusaders up 32-30, only one conversion made the difference. The turning point in the game was a penalty at the 79th minute by the famous New Zealand flanker, Richie McCaw 45 meters out. Bernard Foley’s penalty 45m out right in front of the post gave the Waratahs’ a lead 33-32. Maintaining possession till the siren sounded and the ball is placed out of bounds. The Waratahs had finally won a Super Rugby Championship. [4]

Logo and colours

The waratah is the NSW state flower and emblem of the rugby team Waratah (222279633).jpg
The waratah is the NSW state flower and emblem of the rugby team

The New South Wales Waratahs commonly play in a Cambridge Blue jersey [5] and navy blue shorts, blue having a long sporting association with the state and a famous rivalry with the red/maroon colour of Queensland. Longtime sponsors HSBC feature on the front of the jersey. The Waratahs wore the HSBC logo for the final time when they played Argentina in August 2013.

The 2014 season saw Volvo as the Waratahs new major sponsor, after a number of years being minor sponsors with 'sleeve presence' on the previous jersey. An alternative white strip is also used. In pre-season of 2006, the Waratahs donned a New Jersey scheme in a trial game against the Crusaders. This system saw traditional rugby playing numbers on the back of jerseys replaced with the initials of the player. The current jersey is made by Canterbury of New Zealand (the manufacturer's logo was covered until 2010) and is Cambridge blue, with the alternate strip being white with navy piping.

Until 1885, New South Wales wore 'heather green' strips. From 1891 to 1897, New South Wales played in scarlet jerseys. The following season, the team adopted Cambridge blue jerseys. The light blue jersey and navy blue pants were established in 1897 and have been in effect ever since. The New South Wales rugby union team have historically been known to represent, the state flower, the waratah.


In Super Rugby the Waratahs have featured the following sponsors:

PeriodApparel supplierPeriodPrincipal sponsor
1992–2006 Canterbury 1992–1996 Hahn
1996–1997 AAMI
1998–2000 Citibank
2007–2009 ISC 2000–2013 HSBC
Canterbury 2013–2015 Volvo
 2016–present Daikin


Waratahs game at Sydney Football Stadium Waratahs versus the Brumbies, 2006.jpg
Waratahs game at Sydney Football Stadium

Until 2019, the Waratahs played at Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) in Sydney's Moore Park. The capacity for the stadium was 45,500. The Waratahs shared the ground with Sydney FC and the Sydney Roosters.

In 2009, the Waratahs signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Stadium Australia which saw them play at least one game per season at the Sydney Olympic Park stadium until 2015. [6]

As well as the SFS, the Waratahs have on occasion played fixtures at other stadiums throughout the state. During the Australian Provincial Championship, in which the Waratahs had two fixtures, the games were taken to the Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, and the other to Bathurst. The Waratahs also played trial matches at Campbelltown Stadium in 2008 and 2015. During the 2018 Super Rugby season, the Waratahs played one home game at Brookvale Oval and one at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

With the SFS closed for demolition and rebuilding as the New Sydney Football Stadium, in 2019, three home games will be played at the new Western Sydney Stadium, three at the Sydney Cricket Ground, one at Brookvale Oval and one outside of Sydney at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle. [7]

Team song

At the end of every winning game, the Waratahs sing the following song: [8]

"We are the mighty Waratahs
Rough and tumble rugby stars
We play the game as it should be played

Famous when we run the ball
We can scrum and ruck and maul
Playing the game as it should be played

Waratahs, Waratahs
We play the game as it should be played
Famous when we run the ball
We can scrum and ruck and maul
Playing the game as it should be played

We are the mighty men in blue
We will take the game to you
We play the game as it should be played

We’ve got talent
We’ve got heart
We will tear your team apart
Playing the game as it should be played

Waratahs, Waratahs
We play the game as it should be played
We’ve got talent
We’ve got heart
We will tear your team apart
Playing the game as it should be played"

—Waratahs website, Team song

Development teams

The New South Wales Waratahs own and manages two National Rugby Championship teams, the Sydney Rays and NSW Country Eagles. These NRC teams draw on a range of players ranging from fulltime professionals to those on incentive contracts. These teams are closely aligned with the Waratahs and are based at Moore Park, the training venue used by the Waratahs.

Outside of the NRC season, many of these players are retained in the Gen Blue (NSW A) team, which is the Waratahs elite development squad just below full-time professional level. The Sydney Rays and NSW Country Eagles also field Under 19 teams.

Gen Blue (NSW A)

The Gen Blue team plays matches against interstate and international representative teams, and has also competed in tournaments such as the Pacific Rugby Cup. Known by various names over the years including NSW A, Waratahs A, Gen Blue, and Junior Waratahs, the team is selected from the best emerging rugby talent in New South Wales. The squad is composed of Waratahs contracted players, extended training squad members, New South Wales Under 19s, and selected Shute Shield club players. [9]

Under 19

Two New South Wales teams, Sydney Rays U19 and NSW Country Eagles U19, play in the national URC competition. Prior to 2008, state colts teams at under 21 and under 19 age levels were fielded in national tournaments and competitions such as the Trans-Tasman Trophy. [10] These colts teams were consolidated as under 20s ahead of the inaugural World Rugby U20 Championship. In 2018, an under 19 age limit was reinstated for the national colts team competition.

Season standings

SeasonPosPldWDLByeFA+/-BPPtsFinals results
1996 6th11506NA312290+22828
1997 9th11407NA255296−41420
1998 6th11614NA306276+30430
1999 8th11416NA246248−2624
2000 9th11506NA273258+15525
2001 8th11506NA306302+4525
2002 2nd11803NA337284+53739Lost Semi-final to Brumbies
2003 5th11605NA313344−31731
2004 8th11506NA342274+68727
2005 2nd11902NA322174148541Lost Final to Crusaders
2006 3rd13904NA362192170945Lost Semi-final to Hurricanes
2007 13th13319NA266317−51721
2008 2nd13913NA255186+69543Lost Final to Crusaders
2009 5th13904NA241212+29541
2010 3rd13904NA385288+97743Lost Semi-final to Stormers
2011 5th1610062407339+68957Lost Qualifying-final to Blues
2012 11th1640122346407−611135
2013 9th168082411371+40545
2014 1st161204NA481272+2091058Defeated Crusaders in Final
2015 3rd161105NA409313+96852Lost Semi-final to Highlanders
2016 10th15807NA413317+96840
2017 16th154011NA396522–126819
2018 3rd16916NA557445+112644Lost Semi-final to Lions
2019 12th166010NA367415−48630

Note: Byes (worth 4 points) were added to the competition between 2011 and 2013

Current squad

The squad for the 2020 season: [11] [12]

Waratahs Super Rugby squad




Loose Forwards






(c) Denotes team captain, Bold denotes internationally capped, DEV denotes a development squad player, ST denotes a short-term signing.

    Players and awards

    Award winners

    The Matthew Burke Cup is awarded to the best Waratahs player at the end of each season:


    All head coaches of the NSW Waratahs in the professional Super Rugby era, listed by order of the first game in charge of the team are:

    Waratahs coaches by date, matches and win percentage*
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Chris Hawkins199611560045.45
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Matthew Williams 1997–19993314172042.42
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ian Kennedy200011560045.45
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Bob Dwyer 2001–20033319140057.58
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ewen McKenzie 2004–20086135242057.38
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Chris Hickey 2009–20114228140066.67
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Michael Foley 2012164120025.00
    Flag of Australia (converted).svg Michael Cheika 2013–20154831170064.58
    Flag of New Zealand.svg Daryl Gibson 2016–20196227341043.55
    Flag of New Zealand.svg Rob Penney 2020–
    Totals (1996–present) * 317168144553.99
    Updated to: 14 June 2019


    ^* Official Super Rugby competition matches only, including finals. [13] [14]

    ^† Les Kiss and Steve Tuynman also coached the New South Wales development team on a short off-season tour of the U.K. in September and October 2006, winning two of four matches. [14] [15]


    Professional era


    Statistics in this section include only those pertaining to Super Rugby matches (1996–present). They do not include any matches prior to this period (1882–1995). Records for "in a season" include finals games unless otherwise stated.
    Correct as of 26 November 2014. [14]



    Women's team

    In 2017 it was announced that a 15-a-side Australian women's rugby competition was to be played from 2018 and beyond, with the New South Wales Waratahs to have a women's team. [16] On 20 April 2018, the women's New South Wales Waratahs made history by winning the first season of women's 15-a-side rugby, with captain Ashleigh Hewson kicking the winning penalty goal in the ninety-second minute. New South Wales Waratahs Women's were victorious over the Queensland Reds 16–13 at Stadium Australia. [17] [18]

    On 15 December 2019, The squad for the 2020 season was announced. [19] [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2]

    Waratahs Super W squad


    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Melissa Fatu
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Evelyn Horomia
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Eva Karpani
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Oneata Schwalger
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Adiana Talakai
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Mikaela Trbojevic [lower-alpha 2]


    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Bridie O'Gorman
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Tasmin Sheppard


    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Piper Duck
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Noella Green
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Jemima Henry
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Sera Naiqama

    Loose Forwards

    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Emily Chancellor
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Aaliyah Fa'amausili
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Grace Hamilton (c)
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Fi Jones



    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Chloe Leaupepe
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Arabella McKenzie
    • Flag of New Zealand.svg Pauline Piliae


    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Katrina Barker
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Kennedy Cherrington
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Courtney Frankl
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Georgina Friedrichs


    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Jade Huggins
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Atasi Lafai
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Shanice Parker
    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Maya Stewart


    • Flag of Australia (converted).svg Lillyann Mason-Spice
    (c) Denotes team captain, Bold denotes internationally capped and ST indicated short-term cover.
    1. Emily Robinson was originally named in the Waratahs squad, but subsequently ruled out for the 2020 season in January 2020. [20]
    2. 1 2 Trbojevic was not originally named in the Waratahs squad, but subsequently announced as a replacement for Emily Robinson in January 2020. [21]

    Season standings

    Super W

    YearPosPldWDLFA+/-BPPts  Play-offs
    2019 1st440013824+114319  Defeated Reds in final
    2018 1st440013115+116218  Defeated Reds in final

    See also

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    15. "Waratahs go for experience in development tour opener". ESPN Scrum. 25 September 2006. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
    16. "Super W: Rugby Australia announces national women's competition, but advocate slams lack of player wages". ABC . 13 December 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
    17. "Waratahs win inaugural Super W grand final in golden point thriller". The Guardian . 20 April 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
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    19. "Super W: Aitken finalises 2020 squad" (Press release). NSW Waratahs. 15 December 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
    20. "Robinson to miss 2020 Super W season" (Press release). NSW Waratahs. 26 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
    21. "Mikaela Trbojevich joins Super W squad" (Press release). NSW Waratahs. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
    Preceded by
    Flag of New Zealand.svg Chiefs
    Super Rugby Champions
    2014 (First title)
    Succeeded by
    Flag of New Zealand.svg Highlanders