How Many professional Rugby teams are in New Zealand

In New Zealand, rugby is the biggest sport in the country. New Zealand has been incredibly successful in international rugby and it comes from a great domestic setup. 

How many professional rugby teams are in New Zealand? There are 19 professional rugby teams in New Zealand. Five of those teams are in Super Rugby, fourteen in the National Provincial Championship and twelve in the Heartland Championship. 

Rugby in New Zealand is massive and it is why there are 19 professional teams in the country. It starts with five teams playing in Super Rugby Pacific against teams from Australia, Fiji and the pacific islands. The other 14 professional teams play domestically in the National Provincial Championship. 

Who are New Zealand’s Super Rugby Teams? 

New Zealand have had five teams in Super Rugby since the competition began as Super 12 all the way back in 1996. Those five teams are the; Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes. These five teams have helped New Zealand to dominate Super Rugby. 

1. Blues 

Based in Auckland, the Blues are known for producing some of the most exciting rugby in the history of Super Rugby. While the team has not always been the most successful, they pretty much always put out an exciting team, currently featuring All Blacks like Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke and Blues captain Dalton Papalii. 

The Blues were the original team to beat, winning the first two seasons of Super Rugby and winning a third title in 2003. Since then, the team have not been able to repeat that success, coming closest in 2022 when they reached the final, only to lose to the Crusaders. 

Having been led in the past by legendary All Blacks like Joe Rokocoko, Doug Howlett, Jerome Kaino and leading appearance maker Kevin Mealamu, the current team looks like it will bring a title back to Auckland in the next few years.

2. Chiefs 

The Chiefs are based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Two-time champions of Super Rugby, the Chiefs won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, having lost in the 2009 final. That success came thanks to All Blacks like Aaron Cruden, Brodie Retallick and Liam Messam. They have also produced some European talent, with the title-winning teams featuring Ireland’s Bundee Aki and Wales’s Gareth Anscombe. 

Having failed to make it past the semi-finals since those title-winning teams, the Chiefs have been struggling with mediocrity for the last few seasons. 

3. Crusaders 

The Crusaders have dominated Super Rugby through some legendary teams. With eleven titles, they are miles ahead of the second most successful team the Blues, who only have three. 

Having featured some of the best rugby players of all time like Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Kieran Read, it is easy to see why the team has been so successful. Their current squad features 18 players capped by the All Blacks including superstars like Sam Whitelock, Richie Mo’unga and Will Jordan. 

Currently coached by the man tipped to soon become All Blacks coach Scott Robertson, the team have won the last four competitions, with none of those finals being decided by seven points or less. Probably the best domestic team in the world, the Crusaders and an unstoppable force in Super Rugby. 

4. Highlanders 

Despite being based in a region partly called North Otago, the Highlanders team covers the most southern part of New Zealand on the south island. The team has one title in its history, winning Super Rugby in 2015. 

More recently, the Highlanders are another New Zealand team that has struggled to get past the quarterfinals, reaching just one semi final since their title victory. Captain Aaron Smith has been with the team since 2011 and is the all-time leader in caps. Shannon Frizell and Ethan de Groot are the other All Blacks on the team, with a few others being capped in the past. 

5. Hurricanes 

Covering most of the north island, the Hurricanes are another of the New Zealand teams with just one Super Rugby title which came in 2016 thanks to superstars like Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett. The Hurricanes defeated the Lions 20-3 in the final after finishing top of the regular season. 

It was not the first time that the Hurricanes had employed superstars, with Jonah Lomu playing for the Hurricanes for three seasons. All Black legends like Tana Umaga, Cory Jane and Conrad Smith also played extensively for the Hurricanes. 

The Canes team contains multiple All-Black stars but struggles coming up against some of the big teams, losing to the Brumbies in the 2022 Super Rugby Quarter-final. 

Who are the National Provincial Championship teams?

Blues Affiliated teams 

Auckland- The 2007 and 2018 champions of the NPC, Auckland boast All Blacks Akira Ioane, Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane. 

North Harbour- Representing the area north of Auckland, the team is currently boasting 16 players who play for Super Rugby franchises. 

Northland- 5th in 2021, All-Black prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi is by far the team’s best player, they do provide players to four teams other than the Blues. 

Chiefs Affiliated teams

Bay of Plenty- Boasting All Blacks head coach Sam Cane, the team play their home games in the Rotorua International Stadium. 

Counties Manukau- Captained by legendary Australian prop Sekope Kepu, their front row also includes All Blacks starter Nepo Laulala. 

Waikato- The current champions of the NPC, Waikato have All Blacks like Damian McKenzie, Quinn Tupaea and Anton Lienert-Brown. 

Taranaki- Home of the three Barrett brothers, they are also the team boasting 2021 NPC Player of the Year Stephen Perofeta. 

Crusaders Affiliated Teams 

Canterbury- By far the most successful team in NPC history, Canterbury have nine titles in ten appearances in the final, thanks to legendary All Blacks like Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock and Codie Taylor. 

Tasman- The team that lost in the 2021 final, Tasman are the second most successful team in the tournament’s history. 

Highlanders Affiliated Teams 

Otago- 3rd in 2021, the Dunedin-based team features All Blacks like Josh Ioane and George Bower, but have never won an NPC title. 

Southland- With six Super Rugby players, Southland have never been very successful in the NPC.

Hurricanes Affiliated Teams 

Hawke’s Bay- Based in Napier, the team have also never been massively successful in NPC. 

Manawatu- The Turbos feature Hurricanes legend Aaron Smith as well as one-time capped All Black Brett Cameron. 

Wellington- Despite making six NPC finals, most recently in 2019, the team have never won the title despite players like TJ Perenara and Ardie Savea. 

Recent Posts