Most rugby fans will have heard of Canterbury. The South Island team from New Zealand, has a strong history which is scattered with All Blacks, Super Rugby and Provincial champions. Canterbury Rugby can be called a ‘production line’ of New Zealand rugby, such a powerful testimony to the region and the professional organisation.
Highlighted in 2017, the Super Rugby champions Crusaders rely heavily on Canterbury rugby to prop-up their ranks. And key players for the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup side includes both Super Rugby representatives, plus the cream of Canterbury club rugby.
To become that production line of talent, it starts at the grassroots, and a high degree of that success is due to loyalty and reward. For some, the fortune of playing the club scene puts you in line to be rewarded with a stint with Canterbury rugby. And that will more than likely lead to rewards; in terms of championships and potentially a Crusaders contract.
Canterbury Rugby Friday Delight
On Friday afternoon, a double-header in the Mitre 10 Cup [due to the test match Saturday night] meant that Canterbury hosted Southland before the Bay of Plenty v Manawatu. It was a delight for locals, who could end their day of work and head straight to the rugby ground.
To add to the mix, Canterbury would put up the hallowed Ranfurly Shield, to add something special to the match. It is one of the incentives for any visiting team, to be able to leave with the ‘Log of Wood’ and Southland had that motivation, to end the first half at 17-17.
NPC coach Glenn Delaney took his men into the sheds, and would have demanded improvements. And boy, did he receive it!
Canterbury Lead the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership
With a huge second half, 61 points, the Canterbury rugby machine rolled Southland. Not in a derogatory way, but Southland have leaked points in the second half so far, and the red and black side hit them hard.
Braydon Ennor (see main picture) scored four tries in an individual show of skill. George bridge also enjoyed the tryfest, but with Canterbury rugby, it is not the individual who thrives. The team is a unit, and has been for many, many years now.
With a plethora of titles in the last decade, it has been a domination of the National Provincial Championship. Be it the Mitre 10 Cup/ITM Cup or the Air NZ Cup, Canterbury have their names engraved on them all.
And not only have Canterbury rugby won the title an amazing 13 NPC titles, but even more impressively, they have held the title eight times since 2006. A domination that is paired to having coaches that have been of International standard.
Production Line of Players and Coaches
Among that list, is the current Super Rugby head coach Scott Robertson (see above image). He moved down from the Bay of Plenty, and now has ‘red and black running through his veins’. As a player, he held aloft the title. As an head coach, he continued the powerful dynasty laid down by his predecessors.
Before him, Rob Penney led the region to a quartet of sequential titles; 2008-2011. And he stands beside other driven head coaches, like Steve Hansen; 1996-2001. Those high achieving leaders brought a consistent approach to high performance. That is transferred into the expectation from players–at the base within club sides of Canterbury rugby, and up to the Super Rugby team.
So a player like Richie Mo’unga stands beside Braydon Ennor, is his first Mitre 10 Cup season. They each wish to perform to the same high standard, because of the regions rich history and for regional pride. That inspires the likes of Brett Cameron, Josh McKay and Alex Hodgman.
‘Red and Black’ Regional Pride Brings Loyalty
Not only is Canterbury rugby a breeding ground for talent, it is also a region where players show loyalty. Like the values that are important for the families and people of the South Island, loyalty is a real asset. To be a part of something larger than yourself, and to show that you as a rugby player, support that.
While a Luke Whitelock might very well play for the Highlanders, it is because All Blacks captain Kieran Read holds his Crusaders place. Yet Whitelock is a Canterbury son, through and through. The same applies to Dominic Bird–a Chief, until he plays Mitre 10 Cup for Canterbury.
And even when loyalty is tested by the riches offshore, some have found the lifestyle a motivating factor to stay. To stick around a successful side, to enjoy the family atmosphere that Christchurch holds. Many have become members of the coaching staff:
The red and black nation, it is a calling to arms. And while the Crusaders might well take the main stage, Canterbury rugby has a rich pedigree that will underwrite the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
After changing a 17-17 halftime score into a 78-20 win, Canterbury rugby are again at the forefront of the New Zealand domestic rugby competition.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images