Year by Year

The history of the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union is closely linked to that of Canterbury and South Canterbury. Football was first played in Christchurch as early as 1854. Its rough and tumble soon struck a chord with the tough men who lived in Canterbury’s rural hinterland. Rugby as we know it today did not exist and clubs emerged playing ad-hoc rules and styles. One week they’d play Association football, the next a form of rugby or even the Victorian Rules game that was popular with Australians. Sometimes it was an amalgam of all three, made up on the day with few limits on team size.

When efforts were made to standardize the playing of football in New Zealand, the form of the game associated with Rugby School was seen as the most desirable. In 1876 the grandly named Kindersley Camilo Montague Lewin, who had played the Rugbeian game in England, persuaded the fledgling Christchurch Football Club to adopt it. Keen to head off Victorian Rules Lewin, the father of Canterbury rugby, set about organizing the country’s first union of rugby clubs. He found a willing partner in Timaru’s George Hamersley, a former England rugby international who had set up two clubs. Their collaboration led to the formation in 1879 of the Canterbury Rugby Union, which stretched from Rangiora in the north to Timaru in the south.mcrfu_logo

South Canterbury split from its parent union in 1888. In 1904 South Canterbury spawned a sub-union, Ashburton County. This was taken under the wing of the Canterbury Rugby Union the following year before going it alone from 1927. The name was changed to Mid Canterbury in 1952.

Based at the Ashburton Showgrounds, the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union currently has six Ashburton-based clubs plus Methven, Mt Somers and Rakaia.

The representative team’s colours are green and yellow. Mid Canterbury currently competes in the Heartland Championship, a competition for New Zealand’s amateur and semi-professional provincial union. Along with South Canterbury, Buller, Tasman, West Coast and Canterbury, it is part of the highly successful Crusaders Super Rugby franchise.

Click year for more Details:

  • # = In 1879 the Canterbury RU was founded , stretched from Rangiora in the north to Timaru in the south.
  • ^ = Sth Canterbury split from its parent union in 1888.
  • * = In 1904 Sth Canterbury spawned a sub-union, Ashburton County.
  • ” = This was taken under the wing of the Canterbury RU the following year before going it alone from 1927.
  • / = The name was changed to Mid Canterbury in 1952
News Articles
1879/1933
Pre NPC
1934/75
NPC/Heartland
1976/2014
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NPC/Heartland Titles

– 1976 / 2014 –

Year First Division Winner Second Division Winner
North Island South Island
1980 ManawatuTurbosColours.png Manawatu Waikato colours, Air NZ Cup.png Waikato Mcantab.png Mid Canterbury
1983 CanterburyColours.png Canterbury TaranakiRugby.png Taranaki Mcantab.png Mid Canterbury
Year First Division Winner Second Division Winner Third Division Winner
1994 Auckland colours, Air NZ Cup.png Auckland SouthlandRugby.png Southland Mcantab.png Mid Canterbury
1998 Otagorugby.png Otago Centralvikings.png Central Vikings Mcantab.png Mid Canterbury
Year ITM Cup Winner Heartland Championship Winner
Premiership Championship Meads Cup
2013 CanterburyColours.png Canterbury  Tasman Mcantab.png Mid Canterbury
2014 TaranakiRugby.png Taranaki ManawatuTurbosColours.png Manawatu Mcantab.png Mid Canterbury

Note: From 1976 to 1984 there was no third division, and also the second division was divided into North and South Island competitions. From 1985 to 2005, there were three divisions, all organised on a nationwide basis. From 2006 onward there are 2 divisions of the National Championship, the ITM Cup (Air New Zealand Cup from 2006 through 2009) and Heartland Championship. From 2011 onwards, the top Division was split into 2 tiers, based on the 2010 Table afer Round Robin play. Teams 1-7 were assigned to the Premiership and teams 8-14 to the Championship, with Promotion/Relegation between the two. The Heartland Championship is split into two tiers after pool play with the top tier playing for the Meads Cup and bottom tier playing for the Lochore Cup.

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