Wednesday, September 24, 2008

#482 ... The Shield ... finally

PHIL REID/The Dominion Post took this photo ... not me ... unfortunately I had a client meeting .. so thanks to the DominionPost for the image and the article ... and remember this event previously occured 27 years ago ... interesting that the game score was 27-0 !!!

Thousands of Wellingtonians have turned out to welcome their Ranfurly Shield-winning rugby team - and to get a chance to touch the elusive log o' wood.

To the sound of Queen's 'We are the champions', the Wellington Lions' victory parade began weaving down Lambton Quay from the old Government Buildings just after 12.45. Thousands of fans clustered the streets and hung out office windows. Many waved inflatable lion paws.

Steven Bruce was one of thousands of office workers who used their lunch break to view the parade from Lambton Quay. "This is just fantastic," he said. "It's pretty special to finally get the shield."

Mr Bruce, who managed to touch the prized shield as it hung over the side of the float, said Wellingtonians were great supporters of their local team. Despite forecasts of gale force winds of up to 120kmh for Wellington today, the parade was not troubled by wind, and the rain stopped just as the celebration started.

Captain Piri Weepu and Chris Masoe held the shield on the front float while other players followed on the second float. They dangled the shield out the side of the float to allow fans to touch the log o' wood, which Wellington has not held since 1982. Thousands of people filled Civic Square to greet the players, who were announced and welcomed onto the stage one at a time.

The Ranfurly Shield
The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is perhaps the most prestigious trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby union competition. First played for in 1904, the Ranfurly 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, and if a challenger defeats them, they become the new holder of the Shield.
The Shield is currently held by Wellington, who won it from Auckland in Round 8 of the Round Robin in the 2008 Air New Zealand Cup.
Although the professional era of rugby has seen competitions such as the National Provincial Championship and its successor, the Air New Zealand Cup, and Super Rugby detracting from the pre-eminence of the Ranfurly Shield, many still regard it as the greatest prize in New Zealand rugby, thanks to its long history, the fact that every challenge is a sudden-death defence of the Shield, and that any team, no matter how lowly, has a chance to win.