ABOUT US - PURC
The Pakuranga United Rugby Club is the biggest rugby club in Auckland. Formed in 1965, we are located at Bell Park in Lloyd Elsmore Park in Auckland's Eastern Suburbs.
We are home to over 60 Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Nursery teams during the winter. In 2012, Senior Netball was introduced to the club and, in the future, the club will be expanding into Junior Netball as well.
The club has enjoyed senior rugby success at all levels including winning the Auckland Club Sevenis in 2018, the George Nicholson Cup in 2017 & 2015, 2013 Gallaher Shield and Alan McEvoy Shield for the first time in history, as well as winning the 2013 National Club Sevens Championship. Other significant results include winning the U21 Championship in 2012, the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup in 2011 and the Auckland Club Sevens in 2010. Our junior teams continue to build players for the future and the club recently added another Junior Championship to it's total in the 2010 U13 Restricted Grade.
The club's Sevens team travels around to several big Sevens Tournaments in New Zealand during the Summer. The club also hosts the annual Pakuranga Club Sevens Tournament each January.
The club also runs one of the largest Summer Touch modules in Auckland from October through to February.
Badminton plays a big part in Pakuranga sport and we have East Auckland's only international standard badminton facility. "The Gym" as it is known has 11 courts for play as well as an indoor basketball court and a fully equiped weights room. Recently, the club refitted the toilets, showers and sauna areas for members of our club to enjoy.
Looking for a function centre? Then look no further than Pakuranga as we have three function rooms for hire, including the new Dufty Bell Lounge and Deck which looks out over the majestic Bell Park. Each room is equipped with bar/kitchen facilities and can host any type of event, including Weddings, 21st's and Corporate Events. Catering is not a problem as our in-house caterer Ken Long has over 14 years of experience.
Come along and enjoy Auckland's finest sporting club.
The Howick Rugby Club was founded in 1920, and played its first competition games that year in the Auckland Rugby Union. Howick was then a small and remote town, and served the wider Whitford and Pakuranga District. There is no record of the formation of any Rugby Club in the District prior to 1920, although it was known that the game was played, and those interested in competitive rugby travelled to Papatoetoe, or often to other Auckland Clubs. One or two teams each year from the Howick Club played competition rugby in the Auckland Rugby Union from 1920 to 1934.
The founder was Mr. C R McInnes, a close relative to Mrs Nan Bell, wife of the late Duffy Bell, our great benefactor. Mr. McInnes eventually moved onto another Auckland club and represented Auckland.
During The Great Depression and the Second World War, apart from the odd social game, the club was in recession.
Late in 1945, after the War had ended, the Howick Rugby Football Club was reformed in the main by players of the original club. It was decided to form a sub union to the Auckland Rugby Union, known as the Howick District Rugby Football Union. Clubs entered from Howick, Bucklands Beach, Whitford, Brookby, East Tamaki (the present East Tamaki Club) and in later years an Otara State Hydro team. 1945 is regarded as the commencement of the club as a continuing participant.
Howick won the Senior Championship in 1946, as they did again in 1952. Grade teams were also fielded in the late 1940s, however some deterioration set in as numbers dwindled from 1945 – 1950, and to field a team, potential players were being dragged out of the pub on a Saturday afternoon. In 1951, attitudes changed, and the club entered two junior grade teams in the ARU competition. The first all boys team was formed in 1950 and was coached by Ted Murray, who ran the team independently under the club name. In 1952 he approached the then Secretary, Barry Smith, requesting the club take over the responsibility of boy’s rugby.
Owen Spalding, a former life member of the club, formed a boys committee, and became the first boys delegate to the ARU. By 1959, as the Howick District grew there were 14 teams.
The sub union selected a representative side that played for the Koeford Cup against four other ARU sub unions and the Auckland Colts until 1955. The South Auckland sub unions combined to form the Counties Rugby Union that year.
1956 was pretty much a dysfunctional year, with much tension between clubs. The end result saw the sub union being disbanded, and the Howick Club admitted as a Senior Affiliated Club with the Auckland Rugby Union.
The first year in the Senior second division was not easy; the team managed only three wins. Then there were 14 Division One teams, and 8 Division Two teams. Under Brian Sopers captaincy (now a life member) the club was close to making Division One in 1959.
The club became very progressive, and enjoyed a high profile in the district. With no local opposition codes, fundraising initiatives were very profitable, and received tremendous help from volunteers.
In 1959 when the clubrooms (now occupied by the Howick Rifle Club) at the Howick Domain were opened by Tom Pearce, Chairman of the ARU, he described them as the finest in Auckland. They served the club until 1975.
The 1960s saw planning for growth, and when the club outgrew its clubrooms at the Howick Domain, the Howick Borough Council was generous in assisting the club to find a larger playing area in the Pakuranga area. The club had to engage in wise and clear thinking as soccer and league, plus other rugby clubs were also moving into the area. A meeting was convened in October 1964 at St Kentigern College, and called upon all district rugby people to attend, as well as invitations being given to members of the Bucklands Beach Rugby Club. At the meeting, a motion was put forward that the Howick club extend its boundaries to the Tamaki River. This motion was passed and the clubs committee was extended to accommodate members from the Bucklands Beach Rugby Club and Pakuranga District. The Bucklands Beach Rugby Club however did not finalise their union with the club until about 10 years later.
The decision to change the name to Pakuranga United came about to help reduce any mistrust, that the club was there to serve rugby and not a district, and also Pakuranga was where the club would move to with a larger population. This was not popular with some players or the local Borough Council. The ARU approved the name change for the 1965 season. By 1969 the boys section had grown to 29 full teams.The Senior Team maintained its senior status, some years marginally.
The search for grounds continued, until an official approach was made to Duffy Bell, a quiet supporter, and vice president of the club. He generously donated six acres of land for a "footy field". As he put it apparently, it was something he wanted to do for years, and he delayed his gift to coincide with the 100 years anniversary of the land being farmed by the Bell family, original immigrants from Scotland.
A development committee was set up and once again volunteers worked together to fundraise for the development of Bell Park. The ground was officially handed to the club at a Bell Farm centenary dinner followed by an enormous public picnic at the farm the next day – all this provided at Duffy Bells expense.
The main playing field and practice ground was sited on undulating ground, and while the fill was well compacted, it was given seven years to settle before use.
The clubrooms were opened in 1975 by Mr Frank O’Connor, President of the New Zealand Rugby Union, and was celebrated with a match between the Auckland reps and a star studded Pakuranga Residents side. The new headquarters reignited rugby enthusiasm and membership grew, especially in the Associate Membership ranks.
The clubs constitution was amended and a Board of Control formed to help administer the new assets, developmental projects, and financial obligations. This continued until 1991 when a Board of Management, and the introduction of a revised committee to cope with the clubs contemporary needs, replaced the Board of Control.
A few years later saw amalgamation of the Lloyd Elsmore Badminton Club, and construction of the gymnasium in conjunction with the Manukau City Council under the joint responsibility scheme. Unfortunately it was not a good financial situation for the club, as the club had to take out expensive bridging finance until the council honoured their financial contribution to the project as agreed. However time is a great healer and many of the facilities now produce good revenue. Basketball and other sports were soon introduced. The summer period has seen the development of one of Auckland’s largest Touch Rugby modules. A Breakfast Club also provides a good networking catalyst for local businessmen.
Pakuranga Rugby has had its stalwarts, as well as many fine players, including All Blacks Steve Pokere, Steve McDowell and for a brief spell, Hika Reid. The club officially hosted the Italian side during the 1987 World Rugby Cup.
As well, Peter Corlett, a midfield back, represented the Club with distinction in the Auckland Representative Team from 1980-82. James Arlidge a First Five Eight is the club’s second Auckland Representative, wearing the blue and white jersey in 2001.
Thomas McCartney became our 3rd Auckland representaive, after debuting for North Harbour on loan ( defending the Ranfurly Shield). He was called back into the Auckland squad which ended up winning the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup and ending the season with the ranfurly shield. As a side note Tomas became the only player in history to defend the shield for one province and win the shield for another in the same year.
The Club has had two Super Rugby players in James Arlidge and Thomas McCartney. Both representing the Blues Franchise.
Notable former All Black Grahame Thorne was Chairman of the Club in 1981 and 1982.
2007 saw another significant change to the club, by virtue of its name. Formerly known as Pakuranga United Football Rugby Club, today it is known simply as “Pakuranga United Rugby Club”.
PAKURANGA UNITED RUGBY CLUB
78 Bells Road, PakurangaAuckland 2010
(09) 576 7928
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