Taranaki rugby fans want to get their hands on Ranfurly Shield
Rugby fans who want to get up close and personal with the Ranfurly Shield are being urged to wait - a few days at least.
Taranaki Rugby Union commercial manager Geoff Hitchcock said they're expecting it to be a busy summer for the shield now that it's been locked down for the season.
"We're formulating plans and processes and currently creating a calender to cope with the requests," Hitchcock said.
"Give us a few days to get everything sorted."
After snatching the shield from Canterbury on October 6, the Taranaki Bulls secured the shield for the summer by beating Manawatū on Wednesday night, winning 46-25.
They did it in front of a home crowd of 11,000 fans who turned out to support them even though it had been raining off and on all day and showers kept sweeping in during the game.
At this stage nothing has been finalised in terms of plans for shield visits and events but Hitchcock said they did want to share the shield with the community as much as possible.
"It's absolutely brilliant for our fans, sponsors and everyone involved," he said.
Last time the shield was in Taranaki, the TRFU was inundated with requests from sponsors, schools, rugby clubs, rest homes, kindergartens and even stag do's who wanted to spend some time with the Shield.
Hitchcock was expecting this time around to be no different.
"Based on what it was like last time we're expecting it to be busy."
"We're hoping not to have to turn people or requests down but it will depend on demand, we won't be able to accommodate everyone."
There were no restrictions as to where the shield could not go but each request would be judged when the rugby union received them.
"It's a valuable trophy and a piece of New Zealand history and we need to make sure we look after it appropriately," he said.
One fan lucky enough to have already got his hands on the Log o' Wood was Morris West, who often wears the suit of Taranaki mascot Ferdinand.
He got to touch the shield when the team bought it back from Christchurch last week, but was asked by a camera man in Wednesday night's game to be photographed with it and declined.
"I refused to touch it till we won. After the game I grabbed it off one of the players to have a photo with a family who were at the game."
Another fan Mike Morresey, had also had the chance to admire the shield in person when the team brought it back from Canterbury.
"It was sitting on the ground so I just picked it up and said I'll look after you."
Morresey waves the big flag at each home game and has been doing it for 16 years.
"My passion for the team has always been there, I've supported them for over 40 years."
"It's an honour to do what I do, win or lose I'm there for the team."
He agreed the shield had a special place in New Zealand history.
"The shield brings a lot of things to the community, wherever it is," he said.