Established. 1896

Contact Details Ph: (03) 439 5738
Club Address: Kakanui Valley Rd, Maheno 9492, New Zealand


The Maheno Rugby Football Club was established in 1896.

The Maheno Rugby Club was first opened in 1896 and there were clubrooms built. They built new clubrooms in 1980 because of a flood but just after they had built the new ones there was a big flood that flooded right through the clubrooms. There is a mark on the bar where the water got up to. The old clubrooms are now the changing rooms. In 1921 Maheno Rugby Club joined the North Otago competition and won the shield. They also won in 1946 when they combined with Excelsior, 1961,1963,1989 and 1990.

In 1994 a women’s rugby team started and they played the Dunedin teams but it stopped 4 or 5 years later.

These are the people from the local area who went on to play for the All Blacks (see Below) : Jack Finlay, Colin Gillies, J.M Taylor, John Hotop (from Kakanui), Jeff Matheson.



1926, 1928, 1935, 1938, 1961, 1963, 1984, 1989, 1990, 2001, 2016.









Player Played for Maheno Played for the All Blacks
Jack Finlay  #455 1930 (juniors) 1946
Jack Finlay, who played all his club rugby for Feilding Old Boys, represented Manawatu first as an 18 year old in 1934, and in his first six years out of school appeared in 59 matches for the province out of a possible 61.

A feature of those games was that Finlay, a forward in club play, played mostly in the five eights for Manawatu. As a forward he did well enough to be selected for three All Black trials in 1937, twice as a prop and once as a hooker, though ten of his twelve games for Manawatu that season were in the five eights.

Like many of his generation, Jack Finlay’s best rugby years were spent in the Army in World War II where he attained the rank of Major and won the Military Cross.

As vice captain of the very successful 1945/6 “Kiwis” Army team he played in 23 of the 38 games, including the three “internationals” in Britain.

Back in New Zealand Finlay, described as “fit and tireless, adept at linking with backs or forwards and a great rucking forward”, played out the 1946 season. He made his one test appearance against the touring Australians that year, at No. 8, in Dunedin, being labelled New Zealand’s best forward that day. He missed the second test through a freak accident whilst on his way to assemble with the team for the match, running into a suddenly opening window at Frankton Junction station as he joined in the customary early morning sprint from the train to the Railways refreshment rooms.

After retiring Jack Finlay served as a selector, for Manawatu in 1949, the North Island 1949-63 and New Zealand 1961-63. He was coach of the New Zealand Colts side on its Australian tour in 1964. His cousin, Brian E L Finlay was an All Black in 1959.

Employed as a grain buyer for a stock firm, Jack Finlay in the 1960s suggested the development of a breed of black oats suitable for growing in the North Island. Crop and Food Research picked up on the suggestion and in 1993 it was announced that the Finlay oat, targeted at the horse industry, was ready to be grown commercially.

Profile by Bob Luxford
for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.

Colin Gillies #426 1938 1935
As captain of Varsity A in 1936, C. C. Gillies led his team by example. He was a fine first five-eighth who left the defence standing with many an exciting dash.

Gillies played on the principle that the first thrust after the ball came from the scrum should be made by the first five-eighth. He was always quick on attack and played tirelessly, often in gruelling conditions. In cutting through to score, running his supports into position, kicking for the line, or covering on defence, he invariably imparted brilliance to his play.

Gillies was in the Varsity A team in 1932-33-35-36 and in the Otago team as a Varsity club member in the same four seasons. In the 1936 season Varsity played another fine first five-eighth, T. Berghan, outside Gillies in the A team backline. A little ironically, Gillies himself was played at second five-eighth by the Otago selectors in 1936 and also appeared in that position for the South Island. But, when he was brought into the New Zealand team against South Canterbury and for the second test against Australia, played at Carisbrook, he was given his usual position of first five-eighth. He seized the opportunity to demonstrate all his elusiveness and dash.

Gillies provided practically all the thrust in the All Blacks’ rearguard. Time and again he went through the defence. And the result was that after Australia had led 13-11 at half time, New Zealand piled on 27 points in the second half to win, 38-13.

When the first regular universities inter-island match was played in 1936 Gillies took his place in the South Island team. He had previously represented N Z Universities on their Japanese tour early in 1936.

Profile courtesy University of Otago RFC.

Colin Gillies was in the 1st XV at Waitaki BHS 1929-31 and represented North Otago at both rugby and cricket in 1931 whilst still at school. Two brother, A J and D H Gillies also played rugby for North Otago.

A schoolteacher, later an accountant, Gillies was North Otago sub-unions selector-coach 1954-56 and North Otago selector 1956.

Profile by Bob Luxford
for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.

John Taylor #435 1938 1937
Jack (John) Taylor gave outstanding service as a player and then as a coach, selector and administrator to two of the country ‘s biggest provincial unions, Otago and Wellington. Though not a big man, even in the 1930s at 1.75m and under 80kgs,Taylor was was an excellent fuillback noted for his fearlessness on defence and power and accuracy of kicking, either punting for the line or at goal.

A Southlander by birth, Taylor came to Dunedin to work as a young man and linked up with the famous Pirates club. In 1933 aged only 20 Taylor made the Otago representative team and played for that union until 1938.

He played for Otago in 35 matches and was involved in many of the province ‘s Ranfurly Shield matches in that decade. He played in Otago ‘s unsuccessful challenge against Canterbury in his debut season but missed the successful bid two years later in Christchurch.

However, he was in the Otago side all through the 1936 season and then again in 1938. His 15 shield matches brought him 39 points in all.

He had an All Black trial in 1935 before the side was chosen for the tour of Britain and had further trials in 1937 and 1939. He was in the South Island side in each of the 1937-38 seasons and in those years was honoured with All Black status.

He played fullback in all three tests against the 1937 Springboks and was one of the few in a badly outclassed backline in the third test at Eden Park who escaped severe criticism for his performance. He retained his All Black position for the following year ‘s tour of Australia and his six appearances included all thee tests.

His Otago team-mate Dave Trevathan was preferred as the goal-kicker in the 1937 series but Taylor took over the role with Trevathan omitted for the Australian tour and was the leading scorer with 45 points from 15 conversions and five penalty goals. In the tests he contributed 24 points from four penalties and six conversions.

In 1939 Taylor, a public servant, was transferred to Wellington and in the next two seasons, before World War II curtailed his rugby career, played 10 games for his union. He was also in the trials to help pick the 1940 All Black side to tour South Africa. The outbreak of the war meant the tour did not proceed but it was confidently expected Taylor would have been one of the fullbacks in the touring party.

As a member of another of the country ‘s long established clubs, Wellington, Taylor remained prominent in the game after retiring. He was the coach of the Wellington side and then from 1954 to 1962 he was on the representative selection panel.

During his selection tenure Wellington won the Ranfurly Shield in 1956 from Canterbury. Taylor was on the Wellington union management committee in 1950-73 and in 1969-73 was the chairman. His notable contribution to administration won him life membership from both the Wellington club and union.

Profile by Lindsay Knight
for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.

FULL NAME John McLeod Taylor

Jeff Matheson #708 1975 1972
A sturdily built prop who maintained the Otago tradition for determination and fierce rucking, Jeff Matheson never quite reached his true potential because of a serious injury. But in the short time he was in the All Blacks he quickly won respect for his no nonsense, uncompromising attitudes.

From farming stock to the north of Dunedin, Matheson was a product of a fine rugby nursery, Waitaki Boys High School in Oamaru where he was in the 1st XV 1964,65. As an Otago country player, he made the Otago side for the first time in 1970 and over the next three seasons had 32 games for the union.

Because Otago had two other powerful props during the 1971-72 seasons in Lindsay Clark and Keith Murdoch Matheson was often shifted to lock, though at just 1.82m and under 100kgs he did not seem to have the physique for the second row.

Sterling efforts for Otago against the Lions in 1971 and the Wallabies in 1972 enabled Matheson to press his national claims.

In 1972, after playing for the South in the interisland match, he was included in all three tests against the touring Wallabies and then for the tour of Britain and France, where he and Murdoch were seen as the first choice props. But after playing in 10 matches, including the internationals against Wales and Scotland, Matheson injured his ribs in the Scotland match so badly that he had to be replaced for the rest of the tour.

Sadly, what had been his 13th All Black appearance proved to be his last.

Because of his injury Matheson missed all of the 1973 domestic season and when he resumed his representative career in 1974 it was with North Otago. He captained that union in 22 matches in the 1974 and 1975 seasons and was given further All Black trials in 1974. But by then some of the edge had gone from his game and after 1975 he was no longer seen in provincial rugby.

He remained a passionate rugby man and one of his many roles in the game was as North Otago’s coach in 1977-80. Another role was to act as technical advisor to the Sri Lankan Rugby Union 1990-94. And in the late 1990s he was instrumental in forming a “legends” club.

Profile by Lindsay Knight
for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.

John Hotop #540 1952
John Hotop was a skilful five eighths, mainly at first, who might have had a more significant All Black career in the early to mid 1950s but for a wretched run with injuries, especially to the knees.

Hotop was at first five in the All Black side for both home tests against Australia in 1952, kicking a dropped goal, scoring a try and setting up stand-in wing Eddie Robinson for another try in the 15-8 win in the second match at Athletic Park. Some critics judged him the best of the All Black backs in a victory made the more meritorious because much of it was played with fourteen men when wing Ray Bell suffered a broken leg after ten minutes. Hotop might well have made the tour the following year to Britain and France but suffered an injury midway through the 1953 season. He missed not only the trials but also Canterbury’s Ranfurly Shield win over Wellington.

Because of the injury Hotop was out for the entire 1954 season and on his return regained his All Black spot for the third test of 1955 against Australia at Eden Park. That match was lost 8-3 and Hotop was among five players never to play for the All Blacks again.

Originally from Central Otago and a product of Waitaki Boys High School (1st XV 1946,47 and school athletics champion), Hotop entered first class rugby with the Bush union in 1948 straight from school. A schoolboy five eight, on leaving school, he heeded the advice of Waitaki rector (1928 All Black Jim Burrows) to start in senior rugby as a centre rather than the more demanding five eight position and it was in this position he played for Bush. He did enough in his four matches to be chosen as one of the Rugby Almanacks’s Five Promising Players and to appear for Wairarapa Bush against Wellington in a trial match for the 1949 All Black tour to South Africa.

Though he played in 1948 for one of the country’s smallest unions quality players were found in some of the teams he played against. Wanganui fielded two players (Peter Henderson and Keith Gudsell) who toured with the 1949 All Blacks and Wairarapa 1947-49 All Black Ben Couch. A far cry from the concentration of players in the major metropolitan union that applies today.

As a trainee farming adviser Hotop spent periods in different parts of the country and divided his time between studying at either Massey University (whom he helped win the Manawatu senior championship) or Lincoln College. As a result he played for four different unions, Bush, Manawatu (with whom in 1950 he played for Manawatu-Horowhenua against the touring Lions), Canterbury and Otago. He was selected, too, for a fifth union. Southland in 1949, but could not play because of injuries.

After being one of the stars of the New Zealand Universities on the 1951 tour of Australia Hotop became established over the next few seasons with some strong Canterbury sides. His time with the red and blacks was his most significant in provincial rugby.

But he also had a lengthy spell in Otago between 1956 and 1959, playing for that union against the Springboks in 1956.

Late in his career he returned to Canterbury and in 1960-61 brought his tally of games for that union to 48 and in 1960, aged 30, was recalled as a centre to the South Island side, for which he had previously appeared in 1952 and 1955.

Hotop had a long, varied career spanning 14 season between 1948 when he was 18 and 1961 when he was 31. But he finished on just 97 first class appearances. Injuries were a factor in this but his tally over so many years was also a reflection that major rugby then was not played with the frequency of modern times.

Coached Hamilton Old Boys seniors in the 1970s. He was also a useful club cricketer.

Profile by Lindsay Knight and Bob Luxford
for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.