Old New Zealand

...Ranfurly Shield...

Perhaps the most coveted prize in New Zealand domestic rugby is the Ranfurly Shield a.k.a. "The log o' wood". Unlike other tournaments the shield is played on a challenge basis. The holder must defend each time they play on their home ground, though from time to time some unions have opted to take the shield on the road.

Ranfurly Shield

Left: The "Log of Wood"

The shield was given to the NZRFU in 1901 by the Earl of Ranfurly, then governor of New Zealand and a patron of the NZRFU. The province of Auckland was declared the first winner of the shield after playing an unbeaten season in 1902.

Curiously the Earl never got to see any of the games named in his honour, having already sailed for England before the first challenge was played.

Auckland didn't have any home games in 1903 so the first challenge wasn't until August 6, 1904 when they lost the Shield to Wellington (6-3). Wellington went on to successfully defend against Canterbury (6-3) and Otago (15-13). In the 1905 season they held out against Wairarapa (3-3) and Hawkes Bay before losing the Shield back to Auckland (10-6) on August 26. Auckland would then hold the Shield continuously from 1906-1913, winning 22 games and drawing one, finally losing to Taranaki (14-10) on August 16, 2013.

Taranaki won six defences before losing the Shield to Wellington (12-6) on September 10, 2014. Due to the upheaval of World War One Wellington were not required to defend the Shield until 1919 when they defeated Canterbury, 21-8.

Encyclopedia of New Zealand - Ranfurly Shield
NZ Rugby World - NZ Rugby Website, Tri-nations, Super 14, NPC
Rugby News - Weekly magazine. News, links, and subscription and contact details.
Rugby Museum - The Leading Online New Zealand Experience Rugby Resource.
Scrum.co.nz - Ranfurly Shield

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