New Zealand has more than 500 rugby clubs which makes selecting a 'First XV of classics', an endeavour sure to stir spirited discussion. Our selection criteria was based on All Blacks produced, championships won, history, uniqueness and rivalry.
We have tried to avoid, where possible, Marist clubs, High School Old Boys' and Varsity clubs because they represent massive institutions (the Catholic church; traditional single-sex state education networks; universities) rather than community.
Christchurch HSOB warrant a place on the list due to their unique reputation of being a first five factory and there's a certain varsity club that also makes an appearance through sheer weight of All Blacks and its indelible part of that particular province's rugby history.
The list is subjective and those clubs who feel aggrieved by their omission should write in for a potential redux in 2021.
Our First XV of classic Kiwi clubs will be rolled out three a week over five weeks.
Yesterday: North Shore Rugby Football Club
Tomorrow: High School Old Boys (Christchurch)
Taranaki club rugby is fiercely fought and as a largely rural province, retains a lot of the inter-town parochialism missing from metropolitan competitions.
In this respect, Tukapa might be seen as a curious choice as they represent not a town, but a little corner of New Plymouth.
While they have provided more All Blacks than any other Taranaki club, Stratford and city rivals Old Boys have won one more premier championship than their 16.
The club's history is fascinating, though it probably mirrors that of many clubs that began springing up around the country in the last decade of the 19th century.
As New Plymouth grew in the late 1880s, young boys formed into groups to play rugby on vacant lots and fields around town.
The Starlighters, known by some as the Red House Boys after the pub they drank at, and Pirates, who lived mainly east of the Huatoki River that split New Plymouth in half, joined forces to form the Star Rugby Football Club.
Club historian Paul Meuli noted there was no room at Star for the young men of the Moonlighters, Irishtown or Tukapa groups who lived west of the Huatoki, so they met to form their own "club" which after some spirited debate took the Tukapa name.
(The word Tukapa itself has a curious etymology. Wrongly assumed to be a Maori word, it is instead credited to have sprung from a nickname given to a man who operated the famous whaler and trader Dickie Barrett's pots. Barrett had two large copper pots and this man was apparently so adept at rendering whale blubber in these huge vats he simply became known as Two-Coppers. The corner of Westown where he lived somehow became known as Tukapa after his nickname. Even if it is not true, it seems a bloody good story.)
Naturally, Star were Tukapa's biggest rivals throughout much of their history, but the former lost their identity when they merged to form Spotswood United.
"Tukapa has always retained its own identity," says stalwart Lindsay Thomson, a lock who played 160 games for Tukapa and 104 more for Taranaki between 1983 and 1993.
In recent decades Thomson says the rivalry with Old Boys has emerged as the preeminent New Plymouth derby as they are often each other's biggest challengers for the title.
The enmity is also based on the affiliation Old Boys has with New Plymouth Boys' High School, traditionally the province's leading rugby talent nursery, while Tukapa has "in the past 10 to 15 years" developed a connection with nearby upstart Catholic boys school Francis Douglas Memorial College, home of the Barrett brothers.
To solidify that Catholic connection, Tukapa joined the Marist sports association, though there is no overt religious element at the club.
So it's a successful club with a rich history, but there are many clubs like that dotted across New Zealand and, indeed, Taranaki.
What elevates Tukapa to "classic" status is a chicken or, more specifically, a song about a chicken; surely the most curious and well-known (in some quarters despised) club rugby song in the country.
Go on, find yourself a quiet space, shut the door behind you and give this a whirl:
Oh, that chicken! That cast iron chicken, I never knew a little bird could sing, sing, sing/ Till it started a humming, "Tukapas are coming", And it danced the Highland Fling: Gor' Blimey/ When we're passing, down by the meatworks It brings back memories/ Of that cast-iron fowl, that the Tukapas found On the plains of the Waimate/ Tukapa, He, He, Ha Tukapa, He, He, Ha Moturoa, Mikotai, Paritutu Moturoa, Mikotai, Paritutu He! Ha! Tukapa!
Well, where do you start with that jumble of words? The most accepted story of the song's origins involves a trip to Manaia to play Waimate (now one of three clubs that merged to form Southern) in 1902.
Tukapa arrived in the south Taranaki town and went for a pub meal before the match. The host prepared a chicken meal that went down very poorly. The birds were said to be so tough they were hard to chew and impossible to digest.
The powerful Tukapa XV subsequently lost a match they were expected to win and the post mortems on the bus trip home identified a scapegoat, which turned out to be a scapechicken.
"We no doubt had to blame something," Thomson says. "It's a big part of our club and we use it to celebrate. The song is what makes us unique and I suspect it's also the reason other clubs like to beat us."
That's the bit we haven't mentioned yet. If you aren't Tukapa, you tend to hate them.
"Us and Old Boys are the teams the others love to beat because, I think, we're seen as the flash city slickers with our big clubrooms."
Love Tukapa or hate them, you can't deny they're a classic Kiwi footy club.