Tom French Cup

Last updated

Waikato player Liam Messam won the Tom French Cup in 2012. Liam Messam at fundraiser dinner.jpeg
Waikato player Liam Messam won the Tom French Cup in 2012.

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. [1] 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. [1]


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. [2] 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. [3] 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. [4] 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. [5] 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. [6] 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. [7]

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. [8] 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. [9] [10]


1949 Johnny Smith North Auckland
1950 Manahi Paewai North Auckland
1951 Percy Erceg Auckland
1952 Keith Davis Auckland
1953Keith DavisAuckland
1954Keith DavisAuckland
1955 Pat Walsh South Auckland Counties
1956 Bill Gray Bay of Plenty
1957 Muru Walters North Auckland
1958Pat Walsh Counties
1959 Bill Wordley King Country
1960 Mack Herewini Auckland
1961 Vic Yates North Auckland
1962 Waka Nathan Auckland
1963Mack HerewiniAuckland
1964 Ron Rangi Auckland
1965Ron RangiAuckland
1966Waka NathanAuckland
1967 Sid Going North Auckland
1968Sid GoingNorth Auckland
1969Sid GoingNorth Auckland
1970Sid GoingNorth Auckland
1971Sid GoingNorth Auckland
1972Sid GoingNorth Auckland
1973 Tane Norton Canterbury
1974Tane NortonCanterbury
1975 Bill Bush Canterbury
1976 Kent Lambert Manawatu
1977 Bill Osborne Wanganui
1978 Eddie Dunn North Auckland
1979 Vance Stewart Canterbury
1980 Hika Reid Bay of Plenty
1981 Frank Shelford Bay of Plenty
1982 Steven Pokere Southland
1983Hika ReidBay of Plenty
1984 Mike Clamp Wellington
1985 Buck Shelford North Harbour
1986 Frano Botica North Harbour
1987Buck ShelfordNorth Harbour
1988Buck ShelfordNorth Harbour
1989Buck ShelfordNorth Harbour
1990 Steve McDowall Auckland
1991 John Timu Otago
1992 Zinzan Brooke Auckland
1993 Arran Pene Otago
1994Zinzan BrookeAuckland
1995 Robin Brooke Auckland
1996 Errol Brain Counties Manukau
1997 Mark Mayerhofler Canterbury
1998 Tony Brown Otago
1999 Norm Maxwell Canterbury
2000 Daryl Gibson Canterbury
2001 Caleb Ralph Canterbury
2002 Carlos Spencer Auckland
2003Carlos SpencerAuckland
2004 Carl Hayman Otago
2005 Rico Gear Nelson Bays
2006Carl HaymanOtago
2007 Daniel Braid Auckland
2008 Piri Weepu Wellington
2009 Zac Guildford Hawke's Bay [11]
2010 Hosea Gear Wellington [12]
2011Piri WeepuWellington [10]
2012 Liam Messam Waikato [13]
2013Liam MessamWaikato [14]
2014 Aaron Smith Manawatu [15]
2015 Nehe Milner-Skudder Manawatu [16]
2016 Dane Coles Wellington [17]
2017 Rieko Ioane Auckland [18]
2018 Codie Taylor Canterbury [19]
2019 Sarah Hirini Manawatu [20]
2020 Ash Dixon Hawke's Bay [21]
2021Sarah HiriniManawatū [22]
2022 Ruahei Demant Auckland [23]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Zealand national rugby union team</span> Mens rugby union team of New Zealand

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Provincial Championship (2006–present)</span> League in New Zealand

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Zealand Rugby</span> Rugby union governing body

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buck Shelford</span> Rugby player

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sid Going</span> New Zealand rugby union footballer

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Zealand women's national rugby union team</span> National womens rugby union team

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rugby union in New Zealand</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Māori All Blacks</span> Rugby team

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liam Messam</span> Rugby player

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Stead</span> Rugby player

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Ellison</span> New Zealand rugby union player

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kelly Brazier</span> New Zealand rugby union player

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Zealand women's national rugby sevens team</span> Rugby team

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Keith Davis (rugby union)</span> New Zealand rugby union player (1930–2019)

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sarah Hirini</span> New Zealand rugby union player

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.


  1. 1 2 Mulholland 2009, p. 28.
  2. Frew 2012.
  3. Keith Davis.
  4. Mulholland 2009, p. 278.
  5. Mulholland 2009, p. 176.
  6. Mulholland 2009, p. 279.
  7. Mulholland 2009, p. 280–282.
  8. Carl Hayman.
  9. Hinton 2011.
  10. 1 2 2011 Awards.
  11. 2009 Awards.
  12. 2010 Awards.
  13. 2012 Awards.
  14. 2013 Awards.
  15. McKendry, Patrick (11 December 2014). "Retallick, Hansen and All Blacks the big winners in NZ rugby awards". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  16. Paul, Gregor (11 December 2015). "Nonu storms to top of NZ rugby awards". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  17. Burnes, Campbell (16 December 2016). "Barrett brothers our best at NZ rugby awards". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  18. "Black Ferns dominate rugby awards". RNZ Sport. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  19. "History made at 2018 ASB rugby awards". New Zealand Rugby. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  20. "Hirini becomes first wahine to win Māori player of the year". Te Ao Māori News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  21. "All Blacks captain Sam Cane ends tough year with top NZ Rugby award for 2020". 18 December 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  22. Hinton, Marc (15 December 2021). "Black Ferns sevens skipper Sarah Hirini named New Zealand Rugby's player of year". Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  23. "NZ Rugby Awards: Black Ferns triumph; three awards for Ruahei Demant". RNZ News . 8 December 2022. Retrieved 8 December 2022.