The Chiefs (formerly known as the Waikato Chiefs) are a professional Rugby union team based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Their home ground is Waikato Stadium. The Chiefs play in black, red and yellow coloured jerseys.
The team competes in the Super Rugby competition (known as the Super 12 from 1996 to 2005 and Super 14 from 2006-2010) and is one of the competition's five New Zealand sides.
The Chiefs current captain is Mils Muliaina, and their head coach Ian Foster. Until 2004, the Chiefs were the only New Zealand side to never have qualified for the Super 12 semi-finals.
In that year the Chiefs earned their first semi-final berth, and in the end achieved 4th place (defeated 37-20 in the semi-final by the ACT Brumbies). They had their best finish in 2009, making the final but finding themselves on the short end of a record 61-17 defeat by the Bulls.
The team represents the provincial unions of Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, King Country, Thames Valley and Waikato. Originally the Chiefs also represented North Harbour and Northland, because when the Super 12 was created in 1995, a large contingent of New Zealand players came from Auckland, North Harbour and Counties Manukau.
Had the Auckland Blues been allowed to represent Auckland, North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Northland, they would have in effect been able to play a team of All Blacks in all but name. In an effort by the NZRU to make things more fair, the Chiefs were given North Harbour and Northland, while the Blues were given Counties Manukau and Thames Valley.
By 1999, clear regional All Blacks dominance no longer existed, so the Chiefs arranged a swap with the Blues. North Harbour and Northland were "returned" to the Blues in exchange for Counties Manukau and Thames Valley.