Auckland, New Zealand

Three-time Super Rugby champions, the Blues are without doubt the sleeping giant of the competition.

Pre professionalism in 1995, Auckland was the dominant provincial union not just in New Zealand but on the planet. A team so stacked with All Blacks it even had them sitting on the bench, set the standard when Super 12 launched in 1996, running away with the title in spectacular fashion. It was more of the same in 1997 before their run was finally stopped by the Crusaders in the 1998 final.

After several years in the doldrums a third title came somewhat out the blue (forgive the pun) in 2003 when they turned the tables on the Crusaders. But since then the Blues have largely struggled, making the finals just twice in 13 years. The lack of success for such a talent-packed rugby region has left many scratching their heads. However in 2016, under the direction of former All Blacks legend Tana Umaga, the Blues team showed supporters that better things are to come with an 8-win, 6-loss season – a major improvement on the previous year’s 3-13 campaign. It seems the Blues are heading in the right direction to re–claim their place at the top of the Investec Super Rugby table. Umaga’s men will be out to show just how bright the future looks.

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