Jed Rowlands, Mac McCallion


Derek Samson


Robin Brooke

Player of the Year

Carlos Spencer

Super coach Henry departs for Wales 

At the end of the 1998 seaso,n Auckland and the Blues lost the coaching expertise of Henry. For the Blues, this coincided with a five-year slump that was not arrested until 2003, by which time Henry had returned from his Welsh coaching stint and had rejoined the Blues coaching staff. 

Rowlands steps into the fray 

Freshman Blues coach Jed Rowlands, who had been promoted after Graham Henry’s rapid flight to Wales, took over the reigns as head coach but only lasted one season. Rowlands had guided Taranaki to the NPC semi-finals the year before in just his second season with the province, but had very little experience in coaching top flight teams. 

The opening night of the competition highlighted what was to transpire for the Blues that year. After holding the heavily touted Highlanders to 3-all at halftime, the Blues scored what replays suggest was a legitimate try in the second half only for it to be disallowed. The team also lost experienced centre Eroni Clarke to injury for the season during the 19-13 defeat. 

Despite the setback, and a 22-16 loss to the Crusaders the following week, the Blues then scrambled to a 12-all draw with the Queensland Reds in the competition’s first ever try-less match, before winning four in a row to put the campaign back on track. 

But unfortunately it wasn’t. After losing 12-6 at home to the Sharks, the competition’s second try-less match, things unravelled for the Blues while they were away in South Africa. They were beaten by the Stormers 27-23 and then lost to the Bulls 21-19. After capitulating in the second half to the Brumbies in the final match of the season, Rowlands was told he would not be returning the following year.

Season stats

  • Played: 11
  • Win: 4
  • Draw: 1
  • Loss: 6
  • PF: 202
  • PA: 201
  • Diff: +1
  • BP 5
  • Points: 23
  • Place: 9th