History of the ARUSC
The History of the Supporters Club
On the 12th April 1976 a meeting between the Auckland Rugby Union and some keen Auckland supporters was held. A steering committee was set up and the first Chairman - Peter Gardiner - appointed. In May 1976 a full committee was established.
Basically the club was established as a fun thing to support Auckland representative teams, to provide supporting acts, music and cheerleaders, and to travel together to representative games out of Auckland. The membership subscription was $5.00 and the first clubroom was established under the old members stand (No.2 Stand) and called the Elephant House.
The emblem of the “flying elephant “ had been agreed upon after a competition had been run to select a suitable mascot for Auckland. The winner of this competition was Mr J.E. Hannan.
By the beginning of the 1977 season the Club was well and truly functioning. There was great support from the public and sponsors. The Club supported the club season as well as the representative games, trips were organised to away games, the Club hosted more than 100 Lion supports at their first large function and the club player of the year was established - the first recipient being Richard Dunn.
The “on field “ characters were created - ARU, Loosehead Len, Polly and Snow. Malcolm Evans headed an enthusiastic team who spent many hours making the characters and planning their acts prior to the representative games at Eden Park.
In 1978 the first Player of the Year award was established and Brownson Jewellers Limited sponsored a gold plated cup to be known as the Auckland Rugby Union Supporters Club Player of the Year. By the end of the year the membership stood at 375 and a waiting list existed. The clubrooms were re-furbished and subscriptions increased to $7.00. Beer was $1.00 a jug and spirits 0.50cents.
In 1980 Bob Perry was elected as President - he remained in this position for 7 years. During this time pre match luncheons were introduced with guests including the Prime Minister Rob Muldoon, the Governor-General Sir Warren Beattie and many famous rugby players. The 6 o’clock spot quiz became very popular, as did the weekly article written for the Rugby News giving details and happenings of the club.
In the first ten years, the club grew and grew. It was a place to visit - the walls were bursting at many of the “after match “ functions. The club had survived some of the toughest years, however, support from the teams and coaches, the Auckland Rugby Union and the public made this Supporters Club one of the best. The 10 year celebrations were held at the Ellerslie Function Centre with the guest speaker being Cliff Morgan and the “life of the club” being presented by Phil Gifford and Barry Holland.
In 1988 a new President was elected - Barry Hodge. The sponsorship list grew and the first big raffle was organised by the club. $10,000.00 was raised for the development of Auckland junior rugby - the Junior Rugby Foundation was beginning and the first scholarships were awarded to Mathew Ridge, Craig Innes, Rodney Edwards, Darren Sapich and Shem Tatapu. These scholarships consisted of assistance with training gear and gym registrations. Currently the assistance is given by way of bursary to ten boys per year. These bursaries are cash grants paid direct to the boys to assist them in the payment of school and examination fees.
Dedicated work by Graham Creighton and the late Bill McLaren saw in 1990 a new constitution and the Trust Deed for the Junior Rugby Foundation written and accepted at a special general meeting.
Membership continued to grow and the waiting list reached over 200. The “elephant house” was to be moved to the No. 2 ground. The committee of the day, headed by Terry Dunleavy, began work on preparing a proposal for new rooms and in 1992 the new clubrooms in the South West Stand were opened. It was also the year for a new mascot - ARU the elephant was updated and continued his antics on the field with his mate the little mouse.
In 1994 a major step in the history of the club was taken - the club received a cheque for $110,800.00 for the Junior Rugby Foundation. The Foundation was now able to devote itself to its objectives of assisting junior and schoolboy rugby. Trustees were officers of the Supporters Club, Murray Creighton (as original sponsor), former All Black “Snow White and Grant Fox.
In 1996 the club had its 20th birthday and professional rugby was introduced. The club relocated to the South Stand in 1997, a new Auckland rugby jersey was introduced, the structure of the club’s committee was re organised and the Shield went to Canterbury!!!! A time of great upheaval but the supporters remained loyal. And again the Club survived some tough years.
1998 saw the club’s mascot ARU the elephant banned from Eden Park. It was agreed that ARU would remain as the mascot and emblem of the Auckland Rugby Union Supporters Club.
During the period from 1998 to 2002 the Club saw many changes. Relocation was again an issue. Space was needed to meet the wishes of the Eden Park members and the Supporters Club was forced out of its rooms in the South Stand. This was a good thing for the Club who were relocated to the ASB stand and with the assistance of the Eden Park Trust Board now have wonderful Clubrooms decorated with all the precious memorabilia the club had collected over the years.
The first woman President was appointed in 2000, Jackie Bagnall. Jackie has worked hard to get the players back to the supporters and in 2003 the club hosted the Union’s after match functions.
2003 was a great year on the rugby field. Super 12 winners, NPC winners and the Ranfurly Shield returned to Auckland – surely the supporters had something to do with the great year!
2005 brought the NPC and Super12 to an end. It is worthy of note that on the field Auckland won 15 NPC Division 1 titles during the 30 years of that competition.
New competitions, the Rebel Sport Super 14 and Air New Zealand Cup were introduced for 2006.
Off the field the Club hosted the 2006 National Conference of the New Zealand Rugby Supporters Clubs. The close and friendly relationship with Auckland Rugby continued with the AirNZ Cup after match functions continued to be held in our clubrooms.
2009 saw the beginning of the redevelopment of Eden Park for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. No disruptions have been felt by the Club at this point.
The Club continues to run smoothly for the enjoyment of its members and guests with no significant changes having taken place over the last few years.