The Blues is a professional rugby team based in Auckland, New Zealand. The team plays in the Super Rugby competition and was founded in 1996, along with New Zealand’s four other Super Rugby teams. The Blues boast one of the best records in Super Rugby. They have made the last two finals of the competition, beating the Highlanders in the 2021 final, and losing to the Crusaders in the 2022 final.
After being founded by the NZRU, the Blues made an emphatic start to life in the Super Rugby competition, winning it in 1996 and 1997, its first two seasons. The team went on to win another title just a few years later in 2003.
In its first season in 1996, the Blues impressively won 8 out of 11 round robin matches. They ended up finishing the regular season in second place. In the semi-final they beat Northern Transvaal, now known as the Bulls, 48–11. They then played a home final against the Sharks, emerging victorious by a score of 45–21.
The following year in 1997 the Blues had an even more impressive season. This time they finished top of the table with 50 points and went undefeated in the regular season. The team came up against the Sharks once again, this time in the semi-final, defeating them 55–36 at Eden Park. The 1997 final was again played at Eden Park. The Blues bested the Brumbies 23–7 to secure back-to-back Super Rugby trophies.
Another highlight season for the Blues came in the 2011 season. This is when the Super Rugby competition was expanded to 15 teams and adopted a conference format. The Blues began this season well by overcoming the Crusaders 24–22 at Eden Park. Soon after they enjoyed a seven-match winning streak between rounds five and twelve. This fantastic spell was ended by the Queensland Reds, who beat the Blues 37–31 in Brisbane. This began a four-match losing-streak. In the final round-robin match of the season, the Blues picked themselves back up and secured their first playoff appearance since 2007 after they defeated the Highlanders 33–16 at Eden Park in the final round-robin match of the season. The Blues then went on to beat the Waratahs 26–13 which gave them a place in the semi-final against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane. They went on to lose to the Reds once again, this time the scoreline was 30–13.
The Blues endured several disappointing seasons after this, before eventually rising back to the pinnacle of the Super Rugby competition and winning it in 2021.
Most recently, in 2022, the Blues enjoyed a largely positive season that eventually ended in heartbreak for the Auckland-based side. The team beat the Highlanders 35-6 in the quarter-final before scraping past the Brumbies 20-19 in a nail-biting semi-final. This victory sent the Blues to their first final since 2003 to be played at their home in Eden Park. Unfortunately for them, though, the Crusaders emerged victorious by a score of 21-7.
The Blues’ main rivalries are against the other New Zealand-based Super Rugby teams, the Hurricanes, Chiefs, Crusaders, and Highlanders.
The Blues also contest a trophy, The Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy, between the Highlanders. They contest this trophy during regular season matches and it is awarded in memory of Gordon Hunter, a former rugby union player who served as head coach of both teams before passing away in 2002.
The Blues squad for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season consists of the following players:
The Blues’ home stadium is Eden Park, in the Auckland suburb of Kingsland, and it can hold a maximum of 50,000 people. The stadium also hosts All Blacks matches.
Furthermore, the Blues sometimes play their home games at North Harbour Stadium and Okara Park.
The Blues represent the Auckland, North Harbour, and Northland rugby unions, and since 2014 it has been owned 60% by these three unions and 40% by private investor Bolton Equities Ltd. The previous Blues CEO was Michael Redman. Don Mackinnon took over in 2019 as Blues Chairman from Tony Carter who chaired the board since it became a stand-alone organisation in 2013. The current board includes John Hart, Sam Lotu-liga, Richard Dellabarca, Kate Daly, Grant Graham, and Brian Wilsher.
For more information about the Blues, including the latest news and updates, visit the team’s official website.