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Regional rugby

The passion and parochialism of provincial rugby helped give the game a special place in New Zealand’s social and sporting history. Read brief histories, highlights and quirky facts about each of New Zealand's 26 regional rugby teams. Read the full article

Page 21 - Tasman rugby

History and highlights of rugby in the Tasman

Largest centre of Marlborough, Blenheim was established in the 1850s as ‘the Beaver’, a settlement as waterlogged as the name implied. The 1855 earthquake deepened the Ōpawa River, making it navigable for sea-going vessels. Two traders, James Wynen and James Sinclair, set up in business. As 150-acre (60-hectare) lots were subdivided, Sinclair traded profitably in them. Farming contributed to the growth of Blenheim’s population, and Blenheim replaced Picton as Marlborough’s capital in 1865. The Wairau River dominates the plains around Blenheim – and its waters have sometimes flooded the town. But it is also the source of the free-draining stony soils that have proved ideal for growing grapes for wine, leading to international success for Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Over 20,000 hectares of the region are planted in vineyards.
Meaning of place name
When the eastern part of the Nelson Province was declared a new province in 1859, the Governor, Sir Thomas Gore Browne, named it Marlborough in honour of John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, and consequently the settlement was duly called Blenheim, after the famous victory of the armies of the Duke over the French on13 August 1704 at the Bavarian village of Blenheim on the Danube River in south Germany. (WNZ)