Beaten on the paddock and robbed off it; yesterday's Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato is one the Horowhenua Kapiti rugby team will never forget.
The team never imagined they'd leave Morrinsville's Campbell Park with the Log o' Wood under their arm. But leaving it completely empty-handed, after thieves broke into their dressing room during the 85-0 loss to Waikato, was worse than anyone expected.
"When the players returned from the match and went into their changing rooms it looked like the lock had been forced. I'm unsure how it came about but several of the players have lost money and possessions, phones etcetera," Horowhenua Kapiti Rugby Union chief executive Corey Kennett said.
"The Waikato team heard about this and quickly grabbed a match ball and signed it in the hope that we could put it towards recouping some of the cost of replacing items.
"Of course, some of those players have lost phones with photos on them, some of them taken on this trip which are very dear to them, but it's something we've just got to deal with."
Despite the theft, and the hefty defeat, Kennett and the team were determined to draw positives from the experience, as they settled into the after match function at the Morrinsville Rotary Club.
"This is in no way indicative of the fantastically warm welcome we've had from the Morrinsville people and from the Waikato Rugby Union. It's been fantastic right from the start and it's probably a measure of how good that welcome has been and how well we've been treated that the guys have taken it in their stride and just don't want it to spoil their day," said Kennett.
The entirely amateur Horowhenua Kapiti team are travelling home today, before returning to their day jobs tomorrow.
- The Dominion Post