Having formed in 1996 the Blues met immediate success in Super Rugby’s earliest format, winning two consecutive titles in its first two years of Super 12 competition. While the Auckland-based franchise boasts the greatest catchment area for a New Zealand side, and despite winning three championships, there exists a common conception that the side underperforms most years.
The Blues won their third Super Rugby crown in 2003, defeating the Canterbury Crusaders 27-21 in the grand final. Since the introduction of the Super 14 format the Blues’ performances, however, have been unspectacular, making only one finals appearance since the new format began in 2006. A reinvigorated Blues outfit finished second in the New Zealand conference in 2011, on the back of some dominant performances from an experienced forward pack that contained All Blacks stars Kevin Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Luke McAlister.
The change to Super Rugby in 2011 has also seen similar results, despite the side boasting a number of internationals, finishing 12th, 10th and 10th in the last three years.
Known for their attacking flair and long-range tries the blues – like many of the New Zealand franchises – play a running-dominated game, with skilled and athletic forwards. Amongst the most exciting players in the Blues line up are flanker Jerome Kaino and fullback Charles Piutau.
The side is captained by Luke Braid and coached by Sir John Kirwin. Current All Black centurion Kevin Mealamu remains the most capped Blues player (150), and mercurial fly-half Carlos Spencer is the franchises highest point scorer (608).