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Rich history of matches between Wellington and Otago in NPC and first-class rugby

I see you. A try is awarded to former Lions prop Alex Fidow as teammates celebrate in Wellington’s clash with Otago in 2020. 

This article below is an update of a similar offering to that published here on this website three years ago. 

The Wellington Lions travel to Dunedin this coming Saturday to play home province Otago in their second round National Provincial Championship match.

Wellington is coming off a hard-fought 22-6 win over Manawatu in their competition opener, while Otago missed out to Tasman 27-15.

Current form and competition aspirations aside, the Wellington-Otago fixture is one rich in history, and in the modern era one that sees a coveted inter-provincial trophy put on the line.

When Otago and Wellington met at Wellington on 24 July 1883, it was the first clash between a North Island union and one from the South Island, and Wellington’s first official game.

This Saturday the two teams are playing their 121st game against each other and also playing for the Mike Gibson Memorial Trophy.

Captain Du Plessis Kirifi with the Mike Gibson Memorial Trophy last season.

Gibson was a popular and dashing centre and wing who played for both Wellington and Otago in the 1980s, before dying of Leukemia, aged 27. He played three seasons for Otago, and one full season in Wellington and for the Lions before cancer struck and he passed away the following year in 1988.

In his honour, Gibson’s Bay of Plenty-based family commissioned a trophy to be played annually between Wellington and Otago and his parents and several family members brought it down to present it to the inaugural winner. The trophy was carved by Winiata Tapsell, a grandson of Winiata Tapsell who played for New Zealand Maori against the Springboks in 1921.

Wellington won the inaugural Mike Gibson Memorial Trophy 27-11 in 1989.

Going into this Sunday’s Wellington has played Otago 44 times previously in the NPC competition, with Wellington winning 25, losing 17 and drawing two of these.  The results of those matches are below.

Wellington won its first eight NPC encounters with Otago between 1976 and 1983, but Otago beat Wellington in eight out of nine successive encounters between 1990 and 1998. The other match was drawn.

There have been two NPC draws between Wellington and Otago, these were in 1993 (20-20) and in 2004 (16-16). But after last week’s result against Canterbury there will be no draw this weekend.

Wellington’s 68-7 win in 2007 was the highest score and biggest margin ever recorded against Otago by any team.

Wellington won this match last year 32-26, Otago won their previous clash 35-34 in 2020.

In 2015, also Otago pipped the Lions by a point, winning 37-36. Left wing Ben Lam scored two tries for Wellington in their 27-24 win in 2017.

Wes Goosen (2017) and Matt Proctor (2012) are two Wellington players to have scored a hat-trick of tries against Otago in the NPC.  Chainsaw (not the photographer) Laney scored three tries for Otago against Wellington in 1998.

Wellington’s overall record in all NPC matches is played 489, won 308, lost 169 and drawn 12.

In all NPC matches against Otago, Wellington has aggregated 1.059 points made up of 138 tries, 102 conversions, 69 penalty goals, and two drop goals.

In all NPC matches against Wellington, Otago has aggregated 935 points made up of 105 tries, 71 conversions, 92 penalty goals, and six drop goals.

Wellington has scored four tries or better in NPC matches against Otago on 19 occasions, and in the last seven matches in a row.

Otago has scored four tries or better in a NPC match against Wellington on nine occasions.

Wellington’s record for most tries scored in a NPC match against Otago is nine, at Wellington in 2007.

Otago’s record for most tries in a match against Wellington is 12, at Dunedin in 1998.

In 120 first-class matches overall since their first clash in 1883, Wellington has won 65, Otago 46 and nine have been drawn.

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