In rugby union, the Tom French Cup is an honour awarded by New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) to the Tom French Memorial Māori player of the year. The cup has been awarded annually since 1949, when it was donated to the New Zealand Māori coach Tom French while the team was on tour in Australia.French had represented Buller provincially, and was selected for New Zealand Maori in 1911. After the First World War, where he lost an arm at Passchendaele, French continued his involvement in rugby by serving as both a selector and administrator. In 1957 he was made a life member of the NZRU.
The inaugural recipient in 1949 was Johnny Smith, who played for New Zealand's national team the All Blacks, and captained them in two Tests that year.Keith Davis was the Tom French Cup winner in 1952–54, and played extensively for both the All Blacks and New Zealand Māori; his time with the Māori included matches against both South Africa in 1956, and the British Lions in 1959. The record for cup wins is held by Sid Going, who played half-back for both New Zealand Māori and the All Blacks, and was awarded the cup six times; won consecutively between 1967 and 1972. Tane Norton won the cup in 1973 and 74, and went on to finish his playing career as All Black captain—his 27 international Test caps were earned consecutively. 1987 Rugby World Cup winner Buck Shelford was awarded the cup in 1985, and 1987–89; Shelford captained North Harbour, New Zealand Māori, and the All Blacks. During his 14 Tests as captain of the All Blacks the team never lost. When Shelford was eventually dropped from the All Blacks, he was replaced at number eight by fellow Tom French Cup recipient Zinzan Brooke. Brooke was awarded the cup in both 1992 and 1994, and also captained the Blues to the 1996 and 1997 Super 12 titles.
Carl Hayman was awarded the Tom French Cup in both 2004 and 2006, and was instrumental in helping New Zealand Māori defeat the British and Irish Lions for the first time in 2005. Hayman played 45 Test matches for the All Blacks.Fellow All Black Piri Weepu won the cup in both 2008 and 2011. In 2011 he was a member of the World Cup winning All Blacks side, and was named man of the match in New Zealand's quarter-final victory over Argentina.
|1949||Johnny Smith||North Auckland|
|1950||Manahi Paewai||North Auckland|
|1955||Pat Walsh||South Auckland Counties|
|1956||Bill Gray||Bay of Plenty|
|1957||Muru Walters||North Auckland|
|1959||Bill Wordley||King Country|
|1961||Vic Yates||North Auckland|
|1967||Sid Going||North Auckland|
|1968||Sid Going||North Auckland|
|1969||Sid Going||North Auckland|
|1970||Sid Going||North Auckland|
|1971||Sid Going||North Auckland|
|1972||Sid Going||North Auckland|
|1978||Eddie Dunn||North Auckland|
|1980||Hika Reid||Bay of Plenty|
|1981||Frank Shelford||Bay of Plenty|
|1983||Hika Reid||Bay of Plenty|
|1985||Buck Shelford||North Harbour|
|1986||Frano Botica||North Harbour|
|1987||Buck Shelford||North Harbour|
|1988||Buck Shelford||North Harbour|
|1989||Buck Shelford||North Harbour|
|1996||Errol Brain||Counties Manukau|
|2005||Rico Gear||Nelson Bays|
|2009||Zac Guildford||Hawke's Bay|
|2020||Ash Dixon||Hawke's Bay|
The New Zealand national rugby union team, commonly known as the All Blacks, represents New Zealand in men's international rugby union, which is considered the country's national sport. Famed for their unmatched international success, the All Blacks have often been regarded as the most successful sports team in human history.
The National Provincial Championship, often simply called the NPC, is an annual round-robin rugby union competition in men's domestic New Zealand rugby. First played during the 2006 season, it is the second highest level of competition in New Zealand alongside the Ranfurly Shield. It is organised by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and since 2021, it has been known as the Bunnings NPC after its headline sponsor. A concurrent women's tournament is also held, the Farah Palmer Cup.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is the governing body of rugby union in New Zealand. It was founded in 1892 as the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), 12 years after the first provincial unions in New Zealand. In 1949 it became an affiliate to the International Rugby Football Board, now known as World Rugby, the governing body of rugby union for the world. It dropped the word "Football" from its name in 2006. The brand name New Zealand Rugby was adopted in 2013. Officially, it is an incorporated society with the name New Zealand Rugby Union Incorporated.
Sir Wayne Thomas "Buck" Shelford is a former New Zealand rugby union footballer and coach who represented and captained New Zealand in the late 1980s. He is also credited with revitalising the performance of the All Blacks' traditional "Ka Mate" haka.
Michael James Bowie Hobbs, generally known as Jock Hobbs, was a New Zealand rugby union player and administrator. A flanker, he played for Canterbury and won 21 caps for the New Zealand national team, the All Blacks, between 1983 and 1986, with four tests as captain.
Sidney Milton Going is a former New Zealand rugby union footballer. Dubbed Super Sid by his fans, he played 86 matches, including 29 Tests, for the All Blacks between 1967 and 1977. He represented North Auckland domestically.
The New Zealand women's rugby union team, called the Black Ferns, represents New Zealand in women's international rugby union, which is regarded as the country's national sport. The team has won six out of nine Women's Rugby World Cup tournaments.
Rugby union is the unofficial national sport of New Zealand. The men's national team, the All Blacks, is currently ranked the third best national rugby team in the world. The sport has been known in New Zealand since 1870. The top domestic competitions are the professional National Provincial Championship and amateur Heartland Championship, and above them Super Rugby, in which New Zealand has five franchises. The country co-hosted and won the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987, and hosted and won the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The men have won three World Cups, tied with South Africa, the most of any other country. They are the current World Champions for Women's rugby union and in rugby sevens for men and women.
The Māori All Blacks, previously called the New Zealand Maori, New Zealand Maoris and New Zealand Natives, are a rugby union team from New Zealand. They are a representative team of the New Zealand Rugby Union, and a prerequisite for playing is that the player has Māori whakapapa (genealogy). In the past this rule was not strictly applied; non–Māori players who looked Māori were often selected in the team. These included a few Pacific island players and a couple of African descent. Today all players have their ancestry verified before selection in the team.
The haka, a traditional dance of the Māori people, has been used in sports in New Zealand and overseas. The challenge has been adopted by the New Zealand national rugby union team, the "All Blacks", and a number of other New Zealand national teams perform before their international matches; some non-New Zealand sports teams have also adopted the haka.
Liam Justin Messam is a New Zealand rugby union player who plays TOP14 for RC Toulonnais. In Super Rugby, he previously played for the Chiefs, and for Waikato in the ITM Cup. Messam predominantly plays as a blindside flanker but can fill in at Number 8 as well as openside flanker. After the retirement of then Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina, Messam was named the team's new co-captain from 2012 onwards, alongside Aaron Cruden.
Billy Stead, born John William Stead, was a rugby union player born in Invercargill who played for New Zealand, the All Blacks, on their 1905–06 tour. Stead also played provincially for Southland, and later coached various teams, including Southland and the New Zealand Māori. A bootmaker by trade, he also co-authored The Complete Rugby Footballer with Dave Gallaher, and was a columnist for the Southland Times, and New Zealand Truth.
Thomas Rangiwahia Ellison, also known as Tom Ellison or Tamati Erihana was a New Zealand rugby union player and lawyer. He led the first New Zealand representative rugby team organised by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU) on their 1893 tour of Australia. Ellison also played in the 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team on their epic 107-match tour, scoring 113 points, and 43 tries with the side.
Kelly Brazier is a New Zealand rugby union player. She plays flyhalf, centre or fullback in New Zealand, Canterbury and Canadian club Edmonton Clansmen RFC.
The New Zealand women's national rugby sevens team represents New Zealand in the World Rugby Sevens Series, Rugby World Cup Sevens, Summer Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games. The team has participated in all rounds of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series since the competition's inception in 2012–13.
The 2013 New Zealand rugby league season was the 106th season of rugby league that had been played in New Zealand. The main feature of the year was the National Competition run by the New Zealand Rugby League. The competition was won by the Akarana Falcons, who defeated the Counties Manukau Stingrays 22-12 in the final.
Keith Davis was a New Zealand rugby union player who played for both New Zealand and New Zealand Māori. He played for Auckland, and won the Ranfurly Shield in his first ever provincial game. After gaining All Blacks selection in 1952, Davis toured with the team to Europe and North America in 1953–54. He played extensively for New Zealand Māori between 1952 and his retirement in 1959; his time with the team included matches against both South Africa and the British Lions. Davis was awarded the Tom French Cup for Māori player of the year in 1952, 1953 and 1954.
Exia Edwards is a former New Zealand rugby union player, representing New Zealand and Bay of Plenty. She made her international debut at the 1998 Rugby World Cup in the Netherlands. She was also part of two other successful Rugby World Cup's in 2002 and 2006.
Sarah Hirini is a New Zealand women's rugby union player and two-time Olympic medalist. She plays for the New Zealand women's national rugby sevens team, and captained the Manawatu Sevens side that took out the 2013 National Women's Sevens title in Queenstown. She was named in the squad for the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup.
Frank Nuki Ken Shelford is a former New Zealand rugby union player. A flanker, Shelford represented Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay at provincial level, and was a member of the New Zealand national side, the All Blacks, from 1981 to 1985. He played 22 matches for the All Blacks including four internationals.