Wellington looking to re-live Ranfurly Shield glory days

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Both teams sit second behind Waikato in their Conference of the Bunnings NPC, so there is incentive to mark the occasion with a win.


Wellington is on a four-game winning streak and will be looking to defy its less than memorable record in Shield history, while Hawke's Bay are looking to extend their tenure to 15 defences.


Wellington have only enjoyed one significant tenure of the trophy when winning it from Taranaki in 1914, holding it through the years of World War One, when it was uncontested, and then defending it in five challenges in 1919.


In 1920 it defended the Shield 10 times, including five away from home, before losing their last game against Southland in Invercargill – the first South Island side to win the Shield.


Legend has it that Wellington wanted to go out to the Foveaux Strait oyster beds on the day before the game, and when they lost, they blamed the amount of oysters they ate and the beer they washed them down with.


But Southland were at least good sports and took the Shield back to Wellington to play an away challenge that Wellington accepted for a 28-13 win.


They only held it for two games before Hawke's Bay denied them of it in 1922, starting their record tenure that ended in 1927.


Southland and Wellington were involved again in 1930. Southland lifted the Shield in one of its greatest upsets, in the 100th Shield match, when taking it off Wairarapa in 1929.

Wellington was the fourth challenger in 1930 and relieved Southland again. They offered Southland first challenge in 1931 but beat them 36-13 before Canterbury took it off them in their next outing.


It was another 22 years before they reclaimed it from Waikato in the 200th Shield challenge in 1953, All Black Ron Jarden scoring a try and kicking two penalty goals in the 9-6 win.


Wellington went 17 years between 1957 and 1974 without the Shield, but worse followed between 1982 and 2008 when they were 26 years without the prize.


Hawke's Bay is well on the way to building another lengthy tenure, especially if they can get past Wellington for 15 successes.


Wellington may have won the Shield on 10 occasions, compared with six by Hawke's Bay, but the Magpies have been better at holding onto it. They have had 72 defences across the years compared to 40 by Wellington.


Hawke's Bay's ability to hold the Shield can be seen in its average tenure of 12.0, the next highest being Auckland with 9.25 and Canterbury with 8.69.


Wellington's average is 4.0. That's the reality of its task on Saturday evening.


Hawke's Bay host Wellington at 7.05pm on Saturday night at McLean Park with the Ranfurly Shield on the line.


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