It’s that time of the year again, when our Flashback Friday segment celebrates Canterbury’s greatest-ever victory – the unforgettable thrashing of Auckland at the Addington Showgrounds in the 1993 provincial championship final.

This time around we’ve got a special addition, courtesy of the recent uploading of the match by Point of Difference Rugby League Podcast.

During the ’93 championship round-robin fixtures, Frank Endacott-coached Canterbury trounced Auckland 40-12 in Christchurch before going down 9-6 at Carlaw Park to set up another showdown in the final.

Auckland coach Owen Wright controversially drafted in Britain-based professionals Tawera Nikau, Craig Innes, Duane Mann, Se’e Solomona, and brothers Tea and Iva Ropati for the decider, while Canterbury’s only ‘import’ was Brendon Tuuta.

Endacott had no problems with Auckland stacking its side, however.

“It is still a case of 13 guys in blue and white jerseys against 13 from Canterbury,” he said confidently in the lead-up to the final.

“If anything, Owen Wright has done my motivational work for me and I believe that Auckland’s combination could suffer from the introduction of so many newcomers.

“What we need is a big parochial Canterbury crowd. They will see one hell of a performance from Canterbury no matter what the result. Don’t be surprised if we knock these big names over.”

Endacott’s wish was granted, with a record crowd of an estimated 10,000 turning out at the Showgrounds – and his charges blew the big-name Aucklanders off the park.

Canterbury powered to a 16-0 lead by halftime and went on with the job in the second stanza, racking up an emphatic seven-tries-to-two, 36-12 triumph.

Tuuta was a deserving man-of-the-match, outplaying Test lock Nikau, but there were heroes all over the paddock for Canterbury. Blair Harding, making his first start for the province in the centres, scored two tries; second-rower Logan Edwards (pictured) brilliantly laid on a pair of four-pointers and bagged one himself; the experienced Marty Crequer had a blinder at fullback, as did captain Mark Nixon at five-eighth; Brent Stuart led the way up front; and Mike Culley outshone Test hooker Mann with a try and four goals.

“The crowd were a massive part of it. They said 10,000 – it was probably more like 15,000, they were packed in there,” Nixon recalled ahead of last December’s reunion to mark the 30-year anniversary of the match.

“And the next day was pretty good at the Canterbury Rugby League offices.

“The way the team was appreciated around Christchurch, it was hard going for rugby league in those days but the Canterbury rugby union team wasn’t going that flash and instantly we became the golden boys.

“People still want to talk to you about it.

“I talked to Craig Innes years later when I was at Featherstone, he said nothing had gone through him before like we did that day – he didn’t know what happened.

“We’ve dined out on it enough – and I’m sure we’ll keep dining out on it!”


It rated as one of the greatest days in Canterbury Rugby League’s 82-season history and still holds a treasured place in the code’s narrative in this region more than three decades on.

The comprehensive nature of the win certainly made an impression on the New Zealand selectors, who named Edwards, Taewa, Harding, Nixon, Stuart, Aaron Whittaker and Simon Angell for the Kiwis’ tour of Great Britain and France at the end of the year. Endacott succeeded Howie Tamati as Test coach the following season.

Endacott’s last match of a five-year tenure as Canterbury coach also provided a springboard to his elite coaching career, taking over as Kiwis coach in 1994 (after a successful tour of Britain in charge of the Junior Kiwis in 1993), Auckland Warriors’ inaugural reserve grade coach in 1995, and top-flight stints in charge of the Warriors (1997-98) and Wigan (2000-01).

But unbeknownst to anyone involved at the time, the ’93 premiership final also signalled the end of an era for domestic representative rugby league in New Zealand.

The advent of the national Lion Red Cup competition in 1994 resulted in a heavily truncated rep schedule, while the rise of fulltime professionalism virtually ended the days of current Kiwis and Australian and English premiership stars turning out for their provinces.

1993 First Division Championship final

Canterbury 36 (Blair Harding 2, Marty Crequer, Mike Doreen, Simon Angell, Mike Culley, Logan Edwards tries; Culley 4 goals) defeated Auckland 12 (Tea Ropati, Duane Mann tries; Patrick Hellesoe, Hitro Okesene goals) at Addington Showgrounds. Halftime: Canterbury 16-0. Referee: Rodney Horn (Bay of Plenty).

Canterbury: Marty Crequer, Mike Doreen, Blair Harding, Brett Rodger, Whetu Taewa, Mark Nixon (c), Aaron Whittaker, Brent Stuart, Mike Culley, Ron Simanu, Simon Angell, Logan Edwards, Brendon Tuuta. Interchange: Justin Wallace, Paul Johnson, Andrew Vincent, Dick Ngataki. Coach: Frank Endacott.

Sources: Lion Red Rugby League Annual 1993 compiled by Bernie Wood; The Hard Yards: Rugby League in Canterbury 1912-2012 by John Coffey.

Share this