This year Waikato Rugby Union is celebrating their centenary, marking 100 years of Mooloo rugby.
To help celebrate this milestone the Waikato Rugby Union has a unique opportunity for passionate Waikato Rugby supporters to have their names etched into Waikato history by becoming a member of the 100 Club.
"For us this an opportunity to celebrate 100 years of Waikato tradition and history as well as an opportunity to link us back to those people who have been supporting us for long periods of time," says WRU commercial manager David Fox.
"This cool opportunity is for not just ex-players, but people in the community who if you cut them open, they would bleed red, yellow and black."
The public will have the opportunity to become a member of the 100 Club for $121 and will receive the following benefits: 100 Club Membership Certificate, a special WRU 100 Club lapel badge and presentation box as well as their name along with the other 100 Club members, will be sublimated on the front of both the Men's NPC and Women's FPC Playing Jerseys for the 2021 season.
For an extra $85 a replica supporter's jersey or replica playing jersey can be purchased which will include all the 100 club members' names on it.
A long-sleeved heritage jersey will also be available for purchase at a later date.
The Waikato Rugby Union was founded in 1921 after lengthy negotiations between sub-unions.
To date, Waikato has produced 68 All Blacks and 21 Black Ferns.
Since the NPC starting in the late 1970s, Waikato quickly moved out of the second division and have been a force ever since.
Waikato have held the Log o' Wood (Ranfurly Shield) on 11 occasions, defending it 53 times which is the third most behind provincial powerhouses Auckland and Canterbury.
International tours have also provided some of the Union's most memorable moments with the 1956 win over the Springboks still regarded by many as the finest day in Waikato Rugby history.
Other notable international scalps include France (1961 and 1979), Australia (1972 and 1990), Wales (1988) and the British and Irish Lions in 1993.
The community game in the Waikato is as strong as ever with the club competition regarded as one of the best in the country.
Waikato is made up of 32 clubs from Hamilton and the surrounding districts with over 10,000 registered players.
In 1921 the first provincial game was against Taranaki, the club is looking at having a big day at FMG Stadium concluding with this rematch.
The day will start with a Heartland Championship game between Thames Valley and Mid Canterbury followed by an FPC match between Waikato and Auckland, the first documented women's fixture that Waikato played – although there was a previous game against another team.
Post headline match there will be an old fashioned after-match function with the players, coaches and ex-players taking place in the Bronze Lounge.
Times and dates are still to be confirmed.
On the night previous there will be a meet and greet with all the male and female players who have registered to attend.
Fast forward to early October, WRU hopes to recreate the 1921 match against the Springboks which was at Claudelands.
It will be a team of Waikato Classics against a team of South African flavour that has played their rugby in Waikato and South Africa, the likes of Kevin Putt and Jasin Goldsmith fall under these criteria.
"It's going to be a real festival of rugby. We're going to have food trucks, bouncy castles, kids' signings and tents sent up," says Fox.
To get out to Claudelands there will be a Mooloo Parade down the main street and over the bridge to the venue.
At night time there will be a black-tie dinner at the Claudelands Event Centre.
2020 assistant coach former All Black Ross Filipo, takes over the reins this year as head coach from Mooloo centurion Andrew Strawbridge.
"I've got a willingness to serve the players and the union, my style of leadership, is understanding that it's a type of service to be given," says Filipo.
"I really understand what my position is in the bigger scheme of things and it's really to help facilitate, to grow players, the organisation and its community. I'm just one part of the puzzle, I'm not the puzzle.
"With the players all I want to do is help them go where they want to go and then making sure that my programme, pooled together with my other management, is reflective of representing Waikato to the highest standard."
Filipo wants the support to see a team that cares about each other and about its community.
"I want to make sure that the fan engagement is genuine engagement and make sure that when the team's playing, it's playing with real spirit and you can see the desperate to work hard for each other and to represent Mooloo colours."
He wants the leaders in the squad to contribute to the culture and what the club is about, helping the younger guys coming through to grow and develop, not just as players but as human beings too.
"You only get one of these. I was bit nervous before accepting the role because I understand that Waikato is a hugely proud union. I grew up in Wellington and probably spilled all my blood for the Lions jersey. So, for me to be handed the reins for the centenary year for Waikato was a huge honour and I understand the responsibility attached to that."
Filipo is planning to lace the 100 years of Waikato rugby throughout his programme so that the players understand and connect to who and what has come before them.
"It's not just on the wall," he says.
"It's something that walks around in our changing rooms, it lives and breathes. It's the responsibility to make sure that we honour the 100 years."
He says he wants to give it everything he has to make it a real celebration for the Waikato club.
"I've got a great group of people and resources that I can lean on to help me through this year, so it's not solely me. There are a lot of people in the background and there's a massive buzz in the union around the 100 years."
Waikato fans can become a member of the 100 Club by registering their details and paying the admission fee at mooloo.co.nz/100-Club-Membership – get in quick to ensure your spot.
To register for the centenary head into the Te Awamutu Courier office to fill out a form or online to mooloo.co.nz/Waikato-Centenary.