Ranfurly shield chance for Horowhenua-Kapiti
Horowhenua Kapiti have been given a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato for next year.
Union chief executive Corey Kennett confirmed that the union would play Waikato for the shield prior to the ITM Cup and Heartland Championship season.
It will be Horowhenua- Kapiti's first Ranfurly Shield challenge since 2007, when they were trounced by North Harbour.
Before that their last challenge was against Auckland in 1993 at the Levin Domain, where Carlos Spencer made his name for H-K.
Kennett said a date and location for the match would be announced by today.
He said it was a great coup for the union to have a shield challenge, and would be a great experience for the players selected for the match.
Meanwhile the shield itself has been receiving expert repairs from a Waikanae craftsman. It's been slept on, dented and split in two, but now the shield is looking better than ever thanks to a makeover by Waikanae man Jim Dwan.
Mr Dwan stripped back the woodwork on domestic rugby's famous shield, re-engraved it and fixed dents and splits.
The shield is now looking "the best it has ever been", he said.
"It's basically a complete rebuild, more or less, and it took a few people to do it. We had nine days to turn it round in.
"I got a cabinet maker that does all the woodwork in Wellington, and the engravers doing all the computer engraving, and myself."
He said the shield was split down the middle when he first got his hands on it, and was looking old and tatty.
"Various people had had a play with it over the years. Now it's been stripped back to the bare, and rebuilt.
"Before it was black, because of what had been put on it, but now it's back to the nice wood grain. It's the nicest it's ever looked."
Mr Dwan said some of the rugby players and coaches had been a little too hard on the shield over the years.
"It's been slept on . . . I know of one coach who played for a team that won it years ago, no names mentioned, that took it home and slept with it under his mattress. It's been nicked a few times, and that sort of thing. But it's looking good."
The Ranfurly Shield was donated to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union in 1902, by then Governor General the Earl of Ranfurly.
Auckland was awarded the shield in 1902 as the team with the best record in provincial rugby, after which it was awarded on a challenge basis.
Wellington won the shield at the first attempt in 1904, beating Auckland 6-3.
A team must beat the holder at home to win the shield, with Waikato current holders after beating Taranaki this year.
The shield has been taken back to Waikato, where it will spend the summer before going up for grabs in 2013.