Hurricanes (Super rugby franchise)

Hurricanes (Super rugby franchise)

Rugby team
teamname = Hurricanes

union = New Zealand Rugby Union
location = Wellington, New Zealand

founded = 1996
region = See below
ground = Westpac Stadium
capacity = 36,000cite web | | title=Information-Facts & Figures |url= |accessdaymonth= 21 December |accessyear=2006]
coach = flagicon|New Zealand Colin Cooper
captain = flagicon|New Zealand Rodney So'oialo
league = Super 14
season = 2008
position = 4th
url =
The Hurricanes (formerly known as the Wellington Hurricanes) are a New Zealand Rugby Union team based in Wellington, New Zealand that competes in the Super 14 (formerly the Super 12). The franchise represents the East Coast, Poverty Bay, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu, Wairarapa-Bush, Horowhenua-Kapiti and Wellington provincial rugby unions.cite web || title=Hurricanes Region |url= |accessdaymonth=20 December | accessyear=2006] Their main home ground is currently Westpac Stadium, having previously played at the now defunct Athletic Park.cite web | | title=Locations - Westpac Stadium |url= |accessdaymonth=20 April | accessyear=2007] cite web | publisher=Victoria University of Wellington | title=Cake Tin lacks a certain build-up to the game? |url= | author=Amie Mills |accessdaymonth=20 April | accessyear=2007]

The franchise was formed to represent the lower North Island with the conception of the Super 12 tournament in 1996, which featured teams from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. The Hurricanes had a poor first season, but rebounded in 1997 with a third placing. The team did not reach the play-offs for another five years as the team struggled in the bottom four of the table. Since 2003 the Hurricanes have made the post-season three times seasons out of the last four; including the 2006 final, which they lost in horrendously foggy weather against the Crusaders 19-12.


Early years: 1996-97

The Hurricanes were formed in 1996 as one of five New Zealand Super 12 franchises, and were originally called the "Wellington Hurricanes". The Hurricanes region comprises the lower North Island. Its catchment area of 920,000 people is the largest in New Zealand.cite web ||title=NZ's largest S14 franchise |url= |accessdate=2006-12-20] . The teams first coach was former All Black Frank Oliver while Mark "Bull" Allen was named as captain.

The Hurricanes opened the era of professional rugby at the Palmerston North Showgrounds against the Auckland Blues, losing the match. The team performed below expectations in the inaugural year of the competition and finished ninth. In 1997 the team made the semi-finals, losing in Canberra to the ACT Brumbies. However the consistent form shown during this season would not be seen again for many years.

Expect the unexpected: 1998-2002

Following their 1997 season, the Hurricanes failed to qualify for the semi-finals until 2003. Despite this, they were still known for the attacking nature of their backline that included the All Blacks stars Tana Umaga and Christian Cullen. The team played with flair and could score at any moment, whatever their position on the field, giving rise to the teams catch cry of 'expect the unexpected. However the team struggled for consistent performances and at crunch time in matches leading to patchy form and results.

After the 1999 World Cup, Jonah Lomu's contract with the NZRU expired and he was linked to many clubs around the world; including in rugby league and the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.cite news| | title=Chase On for All Black Lomu |url= |accessdate=2006-12-21] On the 23 November 1999 it was announced the winger had resigned with the NZRU and had agreed to terms with the Wellington Rugby Union, despite a reported a £1.1 million offered by Bristol.cite news| | title=Lomu joins Hurricanes |url= |accessdate=2006-12-21] cite news| | title=Chase On for All Black Lomu |url= |accessdate=2006-12-21] . The move to the Wellington union meant he could be included in the protected group of players for the Hurricanes.

Hurricanes also opened 2000 with a new stadium. The highlights of that year included the victory over eventual champions, the Crusaders, 41-29, in front of a packed house. At the end of the season the 'Canes still had a mathematical chance of making the semis and only had to beat the Bulls to stay in contention. The Hurricanes played one of their worst games of the year, losing the match to one of the worst performing teams at the point in the competitions history and lost possibility of qualifying for the semi-finals. The team finished eighth on the table.

Despite the Wellington Lions (whom most of the Hurricanes squad were chosen from) winning the 2000 NPC,cite news| | title=NPC Magic-Season Review 2000 |url= |accessdate= 2000-12-21] the Hurricanes finished ninth on the final standings in 2001; one worse than the year before. Another ninth placing in 2002 resulted in Graham Mourie, who had led the team since 2000, resigning.cite news| | title=Mourie quits Hurricanes |url= |accessdate=2006-12-21]

New era: 2003-present

In spite of reports that Colin Cooper, the then Crusaders assistant-coach, had said he was "not yet ready to jump ship" and wanted to stay with the South Island franchise,cite web | | title=No Tuf-Of-War over Cooper says NZRFU |url=| accessdaymonth= 21 December |accessyear=2006] the Hurricanes were able to lure the then Taranaki coach him away from the champions and made him their head coach for the 2003 season.

Cooper, along with newly appointed captain Tana Umaga, helped to mould the inconsistent and ill-disciplined Hurricanes into one of the top teams in the competition.cite web | | title=Hurricanes ride high in rankings |url=| accessdaymonth= 21 December |accessyear=2006] 2003 was the beginning of a new era for the Hurricanes as they reached the semi-finals for just the second time in their history on the back of a strong seven-game winning streak mid-season.cite web ||title=short hurricanes history|url= | accessdaymonth=20 December |accessyear=2006] Their success came partly with the breakout year for mid-fielder Ma'a Nonu, his strong performances and partnership with captain Tana Umaga pushed out former All Black Pita Alatini and saw him score six tries en route to the All Black squad.cite web | | title=Season Stats 2003 |url= |accessdaymonth= 21 December |accessyear=2006] The team also benefited from the steady hand of David Holwell at first five-eighth and an improving and mobile forward pack. Hurricanes stalwart Christian Cullen would leave New Zealand shores for Irish club Munster after his omission from the All Blacks 2003 World Cup squad, despite scoring eight tries during the season.cite web | | title=Season Stats 2003 |url= |accessdaymonth= 21 December |accessyear=2006]

All Black great Jonah Lomu was left out of the 2004 squad, due to a life-threatening illness that would eventually result in a kidney transplant, and would never again pull on the Hurricanes jersey.

2004 wasn't quite the year that the coaches, players and fans alike wanted but it laid the platform for the next year with the majority of the team being retained.cite web || title=Consistency Of Selection in Hurricanes Squad |url= | accessdaymonth=20 December |accessyear=2006] The Hurricanes came back in 2005 to the form that saw them make the playoffs two years prior. Former New Zealand Colt Flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth was the real "find" of the season, scoring 139 points,cite web ||title=Season Stats 2005 |url= |accessdaymonth=20 December |accessyear=2006] after much fuss was made about a suitable replacement for Ireland-bound David Holwell.cite web ||title=Holwell heads to Leinster|url=|accessdaymonth=20 December |accessyear=2006] The Hurricanes had tried their hand at getting Australian playmaker Brock James who had starred the previous NPC season for Taranakicite web || title=Brock James knocked back from Hurricanes |url=,21226.html|accessdaymonth=20 December |accessyear2006] and the Blues, and young star Luke McAlister made noise about his preference of playing in Wellington.cite web ||title=McAlister wants to be a Hurricane | url=| accessdaymonth=20 December |accessyear=2006] . With both Daniel Carter and Aaron Mauger at the Crusaders capable of playing first five-eighth the team also made an attempt to lure Andrew Mehrtens to Wellington, without success.

2006 saw the entry of two new teams (the Bloemfontein-based Central Cheetahs from South Africa and the Perth-based Western Force from Australia) to the competition and the Super 14 was born. The Hurricanes welcomed a new captain with Rodney So'oialo stepping up after former All Black captain Tana Umaga wanted to focus more on his playing duties.cite web | | title=New Hurricanes Captain |url= |accessdaymonth= 21 December |accessyear=2006] The Wellington-based franchise again played solidly winning all but four matches, they made their first Super rugby final losing against perennial powerhouse the Crusaders in a bizarre match played under thick fog.cite web ||title=Crusaders win eerie Super 14 tournament |url=|accessdaymonth=20 December |accessyear=2006] . Following the match an incident in a nightclub involving Chris Masoe and Tana Umaga would go on to cause a stir in the media. The successful 2006 season saw the Hurricanes turn over NZ$7.44 million which resulted in a NZ$1.36millon profit. [cite web | | title=Hurricanes report NZ$1.36m profit |url= |accessdaymonth= 22 December |accessyear=2006]

Franchise area

The franchise represents the East Coast, Poverty Bay, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu, Wairarapa-Bush, Horowhenua-Kapiti and Wellington provincial rugby unions. This area makes the team the second largest New Zealand franchise, representing an area of 920,000 people.cite web |url= |title= Team Hurricanes History|accessdaymonth=14 April |accessyear=2006 |author=Investec |publisher=SuperBru]

Like all New Zealand Super 14 sides the Hurricanes are able to protect 24 players from within their franchise area each season. Players not protected can be selected by any of the other four franchises, while the Hurricanes can likewise bring in players from other regions. All of the current squad play in the Air New Zealand Cup Premier competition, with the majority from Wellington, with other players in the squad from Taranaki and Hawke's Bay from within the franchise area.


The Hurricanes play the majority of their home matches at the 36,000 capacity Westpac Stadium on Wellington's waterfront. The stadium is affectionately known as "The Cake-Tin" throughout New Zealand due to its shape, although the locals refer to it as "The Stadium". It was opened in 2000 to replace Athletic Park, where the team had been previously based. Yarrow Stadium (25,000) (formerly Rugby Park) in New Plymouth, Arena Manawatu (formerly the Showgrounds) in Palmerston North and McLean Park in Napier have also played host to Hurricanes matches.

In the initial years of the competition the Hurricanes played once, or occasionally twice, away from their Wellington base depending on whether they had five or six games per year. Such a policy was welcomed given the large geographic area the team and helped generate the teams following. However in recent years the team has seldom ventured from Wellington with the team's board citing full crowds in the Westpac Stadium and less than full venues in the provincial centres and the impact on the revenue generated by the team for the franchise unions; despite the expansion to 14 teams meaning one additional game per year.

Name and colours

The Hurricanes brand name is a play on the commonly used Wellington city nickname "windy Wellington", in reference to the heavy and powerful winds experienced in the capital city. It is also used in the expectation that the team will "blow away" all of its opponents.cite web | | title=Wellington Hurricane |url= |accessdaymonth= 21 December |accessyear=2006] The team's colours are yellow and black, which represents the colours of Wellington and Taranaki (the two initial major unions in the franchise) with trim colours of dark blue and white adding representation of the other franchise unions (black and white for Hawke's Bay, blue and white for Horowhenua-Kapiti, blue for Wanganui, white for Manawatu (along with green).

uper records and achievements

uper 12 placings

Current internationals

*Andrew Hore
*Ma'a Nonu
*Conrad Smith
*Rodney So'oialo
*Neemia Tialata
*Piri Weepu

Notable former players

*Tana Umaga
*Mark "Bull" Allen
*Sireli Bobo
*Christian Cullen
*David Holwell
*Alama Ieremia
*Jonah Lomu
*Gordon Slater
*Jason Spice
*Filo Tiatia
*Dion Waller
*Kupu Vanisi
*Jerry Collins


*Frank Oliver (1996-1999)
*Graham Mourie(2000-2002)
*Colin Cooper (2003-present)

Notes and references

ee also

*Wellington Rugby Football Union
*All Blacks

External links

* [ Official site]

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