Official name change – Whanganui Rugby Football Union Incorporated


    • Official name change – Whanganui Rugby Football Union Incorporated
    • Life Membership – Trevor Olney
    • Extension of President & Vice President

Whanganui Rugby has today announced an official name change after the Union’s affiliated bodies voted to add an ‘h’ at the Unions AGM on Tuesday night.

The change comes after the Marist Whanganui Rugby Football Club raised the subject of adding an ‘h’ to the official name of ‘Wanganui Rugby’ at the 2019 AGM and the Wanganui Rugby Union Board undertook to investigate this option.

Chairman, Jeff Phillips stated:
“As a Board we were supportive of the proposal for changing the spelling of the Unions name, though they did recognise that changing our official name is a contentious and polarising decision amongst our community”.

“We acknowledge that ‘Wanganui Rugby’, as it has been known, has a longstanding history (dating back 133 years) and we do not want people to think that a name change takes away that history or devalues it. The upcoming treaty settlement ‘Te Tomokanga ki te Matapihi’ will legislate that there is only one spelling of Whanganui and we need to be proactive, for future generations to come”.

“We felt that adding an ‘h’ to Wanganui Rugby will align the spelling of our Union with the official spelling of the region, as well as spelling it correctly according to the conventions of Māori. Although there are financial implications associated with rebranding, the cost involved would be a transitional process”.

“Our community will see some immediate changes in regards to administrative and social media as well as this year’s Heartland Championship team wearing a jersey with the new spelling. Other representative teams playing strips will be replaced over a longer period of time”.


Whanganui’s most capped player, Trevor Olney was awarded Life Membership at the Unions 133rd Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, 23 February. Trevor has a rich history with Whanganui Rugby as a player and through acts of service to the Union.

Trevor’s service to Whanganui Rugby spans over decades with his love of rugby starting at a young age. He played primary representative rugby for Whanganui, as well as playing Wanganui B, Colts, Māori and Sub-Union fixtures with a total of 146 caps, over an 18-year period, for the Whanganui A Team, making him the most capped player in Whanganui’s history. As well as his Whanganui representative games, including 4 Ranfurly Shield games, he played in 3 games for the NZ Māori Team, the Prince of Wales Māori Team and NZ Marist. He started his Senior Club Rugby playing career with Kaierau in 1972 & 1973 and moved to Marist in 1974 where he stayed, until he retired. He played most of his rugby as a solid front row prop but he was also a sound middle row lock. As well as an extensive playing career, Trevor has also contributed to rugby as a Coach of number of representative teams and also as a delegate for many years on the Council of Clubs. We thank Trevor for his contribution and dedication to Whanganui Rugby throughout our Union’s history.

Due to the duties of our current President & Vice-President being significantly affected during 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Affiliated Bodies of the Union, on Tuesday night, voted to amend the Whanganui Rugby Football Union’s constitution to provide for the respective terms of the current President, Tommy Kilgarriff, and the current Vice President, Jeff Slight, be extended by approximately one (1) year so that they expire at the 2022 Annual General Meeting.

Chairman, Jeff Phillips, “welcomed this amendment, for one year only, to enable both gentleman the opportunity to perform duties associated with a normal Club and Heartland season”.