The Queen's Birthday Weekend holiday break has come and gone but minus the sporting hype that prevailed in the city over a 91-year period between 1910 and 2001.
The traditional Wanganui-Taranaki QB Monday morning rugby clash attracted up to 15,000 supporters to Spriggens Park and then it was over the fence for horse racing at the Wanganui Racecourse.

The popular annual morning match drew the largest crowd of the season and was played before a blend of Butcher Boys fans and avid Ferdinand followers from all around the mountain province who arrived in fleets of car, vans, buses and even special trains on occasions.

Then for the punters it was over to the second day of the Queen's Birthday weekend races at the Wanganui Jockey Club, the oldest horse racing club in the country.
Taranaki may have been the dominant force in the 80 QB fixtures, winning 54 times to 21 with five drawn games, but there were numerous memorable early June clashes to entertain the large crowds.
They were rare morning rep games for the two unions with the late Peter Burke, a former All Black and long-time Taranaki life member, claiming they always had "an extra special atmosphere – quite unique for us visitors".
Finance-wise they were "bumper" gates that set the WRFU on the right foot at the start of each season.

But the advent of "professional" rugby, with the start of the old NPC championships in 1985, resulted in the larger Taranaki union, thanks to the backing of the large rich businesses and rural sector, able to recruit high quality players from around the country including a few top Wanganui reps who started their careers locally.
Wanganui was competitive at times during the old North Island Div 2 era (1976-1984), winning six times and drawing once in 22 games.


Taranaki was the most successful of the dozen unions, winning the title four times with the Butcher Boys runners-up in each of those years – 1976-82-83-84.
In the NPC since it started in 1985 Taranaki played mainly Div 1 but won Div 2 the three occasions it missed out on the top division (1985-82-95) and was often a leading contender in Div 1, including winning the championship in 2014.

Wanganui contested Div 3 nine times, highlighted with title success in 1989-96-2003, with the best Div 2 placings third in 1986 and fourth in 1990 from 12 attempts.
Start of the Heartland series in 2006 heralded a success story for the Butcher Boys with six championships and five sets of silver medals. Heartland comprised a dozen former Div 2 and 3 unions.
But scalping top Taranaki teams has proven elusive over the years, the amber and blacks winning 141 of 196 fixtures, Wanganui won 46 times and there have been nine draws between 1889 and 2018.

Last time Wanganui beat a top Taranaki team was 14-9 in the WRFU's centenary game in 1987 at Spriggens Park. That same season the Butcher Boys won the Anzac Day game 9-7 in Hawera but was then beaten by a then QB record score (44-4).
Since 1987, the best Wanganui effort in 22 fixtures against Taranaki A was a 26-all night draw on Cooks Gardens in 1996.

Taranaki won the overall Queen's Birthday honours 54 games to 21 with five draws in 80 fixtures between 1910 and 2001, won 24 of 28 Anzac clashes (one draw) between 1967 and 1994 and seven of eight (one draw) Ranfurly Shield battles.
Twice Taranaki has scored 80-plus wins – 88-5 at Hawera in 2000 and 84-0 at Spriggens Park on Queen's Birthday 1995. Wanganui's highest win was 56-3 at home in 1919.

The largest Wanganui QB score was 34-23 in 1975 when Bob Barrell kicked six penalty goals and converted two of three tries, one of which was scored by All Black Bill Osborne.

The amber and blacks won the first QB game 11-0 in 2010, a month after King George V was crowned, and the last one 38-15 on Cooks Gardens in 2001.

Apart from no QB games during war years 1916-17-18-19-37-40 and four matches at Cooks Gardens (after a January 1994 fire destroyed the Spriggens Park wooden stand) the other Wanganui morning fixtures were held at Spriggens Park.

Taranaki hosted two of the holiday weekend matches at New Plymouth, winning 53-5 in 1930 and 19-12 in 1932.


Wanganui started playing rep games on the early June holiday weekend with away matches on King's Birthday weekend against Wellington, losing 3-23 in 1908 and 3-28 in 1909.

It was the next year that Wanganui and Taranaki started playing on the holiday weekend with visiting Taranaki winning the inaugural game, which was played on a Friday, 11-0.

Wellington then started annual QB Monday afternoon games against Manawatu with many rugby fans taking in both the local morning fixture and travelling over to Palmerston North.

Wanganui's best QB sequences were three wins and a draw between 1922-25 and four wins on the trot between 1979-82.

Local QB success
Wanganui successes or draws in QB fixtures, including local scorers, selectors/coaches and match referees –
1984 – Won 20-3 (Michael Ingram, Derek Brooks, John Hainsworth tries, Matene Love 2 DG's, con). Roger Boon coach, Colin Pedley ref.
1982 – Won 11-8 (Dennis Koubaridis, Lance Williams tries, Tom Fearn pen). Roger Boon coach, Peter Hankins ref.
1981 – Won 6-4 (Glenn Willacy 2 pen). Jim Wallace coach, Bill Adlam ref.
1980 – Won 15-9 (Richard Murray, Bruce Middleton tries, Morrie Griffin pen, 2 con). Jim Wallace coach, Colin Pedley ref.
1979 – Won 13-9 (Richard Murray, Rob Manson tries, Glenn Willacy pen, con). Jim Wallace coach, Bill Adlam ref.
1975 -Won 34-23 (Paul Sharland, Bill Osborne, Bruce Patrick tries, Bob Barrell 6 pen, 2 con). Brian Murphy, Roy Horton, Eric Weir coaches, Colin Pedley ref.
1974 – Won 16-9 (Bill Osborne, Bob Barrell tries, Barrell 2 pen, con). Ron McPhun, Brian Murphy, Ian Strachan coaches, Bill Adlam ref.
1971 – Won 12-3 (Bob Barrell 2 DG's, pen, Mike Farrell DG). J J Stewart, Ron McPhun, Ray Parr coaches, Colin Broadhead ref.
1970 – Drew 8-all (Ken Dalley, Graeme Young tries, Mike Farrell con). Same coaches as 1971, Bill Adlam ref.
1967 – Won 6-3 (Bob Barrell 2 pen). Brian Murphy, Doug Kitto, Bill Carroll coaches, Bob Watson ref.
1963 -Drew 9-all (Laurie Penn try, Dave Patrick pen, Colin Pierce pen). Ron Crombie coach, Bob Watson ref.
1961 – Drew 16-all (Terry O'Brien, Trevor Stent tries, Brian Watson 2 pen. 2 con). Laddy Transom, Hata Ruru, Pat McCalman coaches, Maurice Henwood ref.
1957 – Won 14-13 (Bill Crawshaw 2, Derek Thurston tries, Robert Lowe pen, David Mander con). Don Goldsbury, Pat McCalman, J Carroll coaches, Ron Thomas ref.
1955 – Won 8-3 (Con O'Leary, Bill Crawshaw tries, O'Leary con). Bob Selby, K B Smith, Jock Byres coaches, W Kereamu ref.
1953 – Won 13-3 (Tommy Goldsmith, Merve Paul tries, Les Head pen, 2 con). Bob Selby, C T Dowdle, Len Hill coaches, R L Penn ref.
1952 – Won 11-3 (Don Giddens, Theo Kipa, D M Hartley tries, Dixie McCarthy con). Same selectors as 1953. Norm Nielsen ref.
1950 – Won 13-6 (Peter Henderson, Maurie O'Connell, Tommy Goldsmith tries, Don Beard 2 con). W Pine, J S Hartley, Stan Ambrose selectors. Wilf Broadhead ref.
1949 – Won 12-9 (Don Goldsbury, Don Grant, Ross Dallison, E C Oulsnam tries). Same selectors as 1950, Laddie Transom ref.
1948 – Won 20-9 (Peter Henderson 2, M J Hunter, Jimmy Whale, Harrison Rowley tries, Ian Whale con, Dixie McCarthy pen). Same coaches as 1949.Norm Nielsen ref.
1947- Won 14-6 (Peter Henderson, Don Goldsbury, M W Tupaea tries, Dixie McCarthy pen, con). Same coaches as 1948. Wilf Broadhead ref.
1939 – Drew 9-all (W J Firmin, D G Barton, W J Glenn tries). A Henwood, W Pine, H W Whiting coaches. W E Molan ref.
1935 – Won 21-20 (D Jones, G A H Bullock-Douglas, C J Hutchinson tries, J Morgan DG and 2 con, T C Chase DG). N D Reid ref.
1925 – Drew 12-all (Joe McAuliffe 2, Moke Belliss , A R Collier tries). Dr F C Atkinson ref.
1924 – Won 17-3 (A R Collier 2, Moke Belliss 2, Joe MaAulifffe tries, Leonard Head con). C I Spillane ref.
1923 – Won 8-3 (F W Packer try, Albert Delves pen, con). R P London ref.
1922 – Won 12-9 (S C Smith, Leonard Head tries, Albert Delves DG, Cyril Baddeley con). Dr F C Atkinson ref.
1915 – Won 9-8 (A R Collier, J Collerton, A Norrie tries). T P Souter ref.