Southland rugby team, 1889. Southland has come to represent many of the rural traditions considered to be the backbone of grassroots rugby in this country.
Southland's split from Otago in 1887 started one of New Zealand’s strongest inter-provincial rugby rivalries. The two sides have played more games against each other than any other representative teams in New Zealand. The 2010 Ranfurly Shield challenge in which Southland retained the Log o’ Wood with a hard-fought 16–12 victory was the 232nd match between the two southern unions. Overall Otago has had 142 victories in these encounters, Southland 80, and 10 matches have been drawn.