|Presented by||New Zealand Rugby Union|
|Type||Provincial challenge trophy|
|Current holder|| Hawke's Bay|
The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is a trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby union competition. First played for in 1904, the Shield is based on a challenge system, rather than a league or knockout competition as with most football trophies. The holding union must defend the shield in challenge matches, which are played at the shield holders home venue, and if the challenger is successful in their challenge they will become the new holder of the Shield.
Although the professional era of rugby has seen other competitions, such as the ITM Cup and Super Rugby, detracting from the pre-eminence of the Ranfurly Shield, many used to regard it as the greatest prize in New Zealand domestic rugby. This is mainly due to its long history, the fact that every challenge is a sudden-death defence of the Shield, and that any team has a chance to win.
In 1901 the Governor of New Zealand, The 5th Earl of Ranfurly, announced that he would present a cup to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union to be used as the prize in a competition of their choosing. When the trophy, a shield, arrived, the NZRFU decided that it would be awarded to the union with the best record in the 1902 season, and thenceforth be the subject of a challenge system. Auckland, unbeaten in 1902, was presented with the shield. The shield was designed as a trophy for association football, not rugby. The picture in the centrepiece was a soccer one, and was modified by adding goal posts on the soccer goal in the picture to create a rugby scene. The alterations to the centrepiece are still apparent.
Since the introduction of the National Provincial Championship in 1976, all home games a Shield-holder plays in the NPC or its successors, the ITM Cup and Heartland Championship, during league play are automatically challenge matches.
Auckland holds the record for the greatest number of consecutive Shield defences, 61 matches between 14 September 1985 and 18 September 1993. During this period Auckland took the Shield on tour to provincial unions that, mainly for financial reasons, would be unlikely to be able to mount a challenge for the trophy. While dismissed by some critics, usually because of the one-sided scores, it was mostly regarded as a success by those involved.
In 1994 when Canterbury wrested the Shield from Waikato, it was in battered condition, with large cracks, chips and peeled varnish. Nearly a century of use had taken its toll. Canterbury player Chris England, skilled in woodwork, fully renovated it, bringing it back into pristine condition.
The Shield holder at the end of each season is required to accept at least seven challenges for the following year. All home games during league play, but not during knockout playoffs, in the Mitre 10 Cup or Heartland Championship are automatic challenges. The remaining shield defences must be made up of challenges from unions in the other domestic competition. For example, since North Harbour, an Air New Zealand Cup (now Mitre 10 Cup) team, held the Shield at the end of the 2006 Cup season despite losing their home quarter-final to Otago, they were forced to defend the Shield against Heartland Championship teams during the 2007 pre-season. Having successfully done so, all their home fixtures in the round-robin phase were Shield defences until they lost the shield to Waikato.
The Shield-holder is never forced to defend the Shield in an away match, although they may choose to, as Auckland, for example, did on a number of occasions during their record tenure between 1985 and 1993. In 2008, Auckland played both their mandatory defences against Heartland teams on the road.
If a challenger successfully takes the Shield, all of their home matches for the rest of the season are defences of it.
Proposed rule changes
In August 2008, the New Zealand Rugby Union released a competitions review that proposed dramatic changes to the Shield rules:
- Once a team has successfully defended the Shield four times, all of the holder's subsequent matches in league play would be mandatory defences, whether home or away. The Shield will not be at stake in semifinals or finals.
- If an Air New Zealand Cup team holds the Shield at the end of the league season, that season's winners of the Meads Cup and Lochore Cup, the two trophies contested in the second-level Heartland Championship, will receive automatic challenges in the following year.
The changes were not implemented but did receive support from Auckland, which held the Shield when the NZRU released its report.
Just under half of the unions that can contest for the Ranfurly Shield do not have an alias. South Canterbury's emblem is their own Coat of Arms. But a soldier represents their green and black colour and current mascot, Tim and Ru. The mascots were originally used during wartime and were created by Ronald Murray. Many of the unions below have this situation, like Poverty Bay's Weka, it resembles their mascot after the 2011 squads post-match photo after the Lochore Cup final.
- Wairarapa's 1927-era saw them lose to Hawke's Bay 21–10 at Solway Showgrounds Oval, but was subsequently awarded the shield back on a residential breach.
|Ranfurly Shield Holders|
|Southland||5 September 1959||0|
|Auckland||23 September 1959||2|
|Northland||20 August 1960||1|
|Auckland||31 August 1960||25|
|Wellington||31 August 1963||0|
|Taranaki||7 September 1963||15|
|Auckland||11 September 1965||3|
|Waikato||27 August 1966||0|
|Hawke's Bay||24 September 1966||21|
|Canterbury||27 September 1969||9|
|Auckland||28 August 1971||1|
|Northland||18 September 1971||6|
|Auckland||26 August 1972||0|
|Canterbury||5 September 1972||2|
|Marlborough||28 July 1973||6|
|South Canterbury||17 August 1974||1|
|Wellington||3 September 1974||1|
|Auckland||21 September 1974||10|
|Manawatu||21 August 1976||13|
|Northland||12 September 1978||5|
|Auckland||21 September 1979||6|
|Waikato||7 September 1980||8|
|Wellington||1 August 1981||4|
|Canterbury||18 September 1982||25|
|Auckland||14 September 1985||61|
|Waikato||18 September 1993||5|
|Canterbury||3 September 1994||9|
|Auckland||23 September 1995||3|
|Taranaki||24 August 1996||1|
|Waikato||8 September 1996||1|
|Auckland||4 October 1996||6|
|Waikato||5 October 1997||21|
|Canterbury||23 September 2000||23|
|Auckland||11 October 2003||2|
|Bay of Plenty||15 August 2004||1|
|Canterbury||5 September 2004||14|
|North Harbour||24 September 2006||3|
|Waikato||24 August 2007||0|
|Canterbury||1 September 2007||1|
|Auckland||29 September 2007||5|
|Wellington||20 September 2008||4|
|Canterbury||29 August 2009||4|
|Southland||22 October 2009||6|
|Canterbury||9 October 2010||2|
|Southland||23 July 2011||2|
|Taranaki||24 August 2011||7|
|Waikato||3 October 2012||4|
|Otago||23 August 2013||0|
|Hawke's Bay||1 September 2013||0|
|Counties Manukau||7 September 2013||6|
|Hawke's Bay||30 August 2014||11|
|Waikato||9 October 2015||6|
|Canterbury||28 September 2016||6|
|Taranaki||6 October 2017||5|
|Waikato||9 September 2018||2|
|Otago||13 October 2018||6|
|Canterbury||28 September 2019||2|
|Taranaki||19 September 2020||0|
|Otago||27 September 2020||0|
|Hawke's Bay*||4 October 2020||2|
|Team||Wins||Successful Defences||Average Defences|
|Bay of Plenty||1||1||1|
Last updated: after Otago's fifth defense of 2019, against Taranaki on 8 September.
- Ranfurly Shield 1904-09
- Ranfurly Shield 1910-19
- Ranfurly Shield 1920-29
- Ranfurly Shield 1930-39
- Ranfurly Shield 2000-08
- Ranfurly Shield in 2009
- Ranfurly Shield 2010–2019
- Ranfurly Shield 2020-29
Notes and references
- Chester, Rod; McMillan, Neville; Palenski, Ron (1987). The Encyclopedia of New Zealand Rugby. Auckland, New Zealand: Moa Publications. p. 266. ISBN 0-908570-16-3.
- According to Dunedin engraver Brian Swan, who noted the "very low" crossbar in the centrepiece scene, quoted in "Shield victory recalls origins of famous rugby trophy" by anonymous columnist 'Prester John' in Otago Daily Times, 2013-08-31, p35 (not published online).
- "Auckland accepts two Ranfurly Shield challenges". New Zealand Rugby Union. 6 December 2007. Retrieved 15 January 2008.
- "Hawke's Bay claim Ranfurly Shield glory". Stuff.co.nz. Fairfax NZ News. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
- "Mascots back in green and black". Stuff. 24 February 2013.
- "Lochore Cup Final - South Canterbury v Poverty Bay". Zimbo. 8 October 2011.