Mako fans came in their droves to watch their team take on Wellington at Trafalgar Park. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shuttersport.

Tasman’s journey to titans


The Tasman Rugby Union have had to fight ruin, relegation and dissolution to get to the top. Saturday’s ascent to the top of the provincial tree capped one of New Zealand’s rugby’s most-astonishing rags-to-riches stories. Here’s how it all panned out.

February 2005: Marlborough and Nelson Bays amalgamate.

June 2005: A combined Marlborough, Nelson Bays side is accepted into the NPC.

August 2005: Rugby manager Todd Blackadder, CEO Lee Germon and coach Dennis Brown named – Tasman name adopted.

December 2005: Tasman officially becomes New Zealand’s newest provincial union.

July 2006: Lansdowne Park upgrade signed off. Mako play their first first division match at Lansdowne Park, against North Harbour. Finish season 12th with three wins.

January 2007: TRU borrow $600,000 to service $2.85m mortgage

April 2008: TRU announce crippling $3.149m debt

July 2009: NZRU decide to return to 10-team competition. A ‘Save The Mako’ campaign is launched, backed by a petition signed by 14,000 fans and helps persuade the NZRU that a 14-team format should remain

July 2010: Leon MacDonald appointed as assistant coach, alongside Kieran Keane. The team finish 12th with four wins.

October 2011: The Mako finish 14th with just two wins.

October 2013: Mako win 10 of the 12 matches, take out the ITM Cup championship by beating Hawke’s Bay at Trafalgar Park and are promoted to the premiership division

October 2014: Mako reach ITM Cup premiership final losing to Taranaki.

October 2017: After winning seven from their 12 matches, Tasman reach another final, losing to Canterbury in Christchurch.

October 2018: Another top season, winning nine from 11 games but slipping at the penultimate hurdle, beaten in the semifinal by Canterbury.

November 2018: Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody replace MacDonald as co-head coaches.

October 2019: The Tasman Mako – the nation’s champion rugby province!