Ranfurly Shield

The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is a trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby union competition. First played for in 1904, the Shield is based on a challenge system (like boxing titles), rather than a league or knockout competition as with most football trophies. The holding union must defend the shield in challenge matches, which are played at the shield holders home venue, and if the challenger is successful in their challenge they will become the new holder of the Shield.

Ranfurly Shield
The Ranfurly Shield
SportRugby union
Presented byNew Zealand Rugby Union
TypeProvincial challenge trophy
First contested1904
Current holderHawkes Bay Air NZ Cup colours.png Hawke's Bay
Official websiteprovincial.rugby/ranfurly-shield
Current season2021

Although the professional era of rugby has seen other competitions, such as the NPC and Super Rugby, detracting from the pre-eminence of the Ranfurly Shield, many used to regard it as the greatest prize in New Zealand domestic rugby[citation needed]. This is mainly due to its long history, the fact that every challenge is a sudden-death defence of the Shield, and that any team has a chance to win.

The Shield is currently held by Hawke's Bay, who claimed it from Otago on 4 October 2020. Otago themselves had claimed it from Taranaki the previous week.


In 1901 the Governor of New Zealand, The 5th Earl of Ranfurly, announced that he would present a cup to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union to be used as the prize in a competition of their choosing. When the trophy, a shield, arrived, the NZRFU decided that it would be awarded to the union with the best record in the 1902 season, and thenceforth be the subject of a challenge system. Auckland, unbeaten in 1902, was presented with the shield. The shield was designed as a trophy for association football, not rugby.[1] The picture in the centrepiece was a soccer one, and was modified by adding goal posts on the soccer goal in the picture to create a rugby scene. The alterations to the centrepiece are still apparent.[2]

Auckland were on tour in 1903 and did not play any home games, and thus did not have to defend the Shield. Their first defence was against Wellington in 1904, and was unsuccessful.[citation needed]

Since the introduction of the National Provincial Championship in 1976, all home games a Shield-holder plays in the NPC or Heartland Championship, during league play are automatically challenge matches.[citation needed]

Ranfurly Shield Visit to Shannon 1927

Auckland holds the record for the greatest number of consecutive Shield defences, 61 matches between 14 September 1985 and 18 September 1993. During this period Auckland took the Shield on tour to provincial unions that, mainly for financial reasons, would be unlikely to be able to mount a challenge for the trophy. While dismissed by some critics, usually because of the one-sided scores, it was mostly regarded as a success by those involved.[citation needed]

In 1994 when Canterbury wrested the Shield from Waikato, it was in battered condition, with large cracks, chips and peeled varnish. Nearly a century of use had taken its toll. Canterbury player Chris England, skilled in woodwork, fully renovated it, bringing it back into pristine condition.[citation needed]


The Shield holder at the end of each season is required to accept at least seven challenges for the following year. All home games during league play, but not during knockout playoffs, in the NPC or Heartland Championship are automatic challenges. The remaining shield defences must be made up of challenges from unions in the other domestic competition. For example, since North Harbour, an Air New Zealand Cup (now NPC) team, held the Shield at the end of the 2006 Cup season despite losing their home quarter-final to Otago, they were forced to defend the Shield against Heartland Championship teams during the 2007 pre-season. Having successfully done so, all their home fixtures in the round-robin phase were Shield defences until they lost the shield to Waikato.

The Shield-holder is never forced to defend the Shield in an away match, although they may choose to, as Auckland, for example, did on a number of occasions during their record tenure between 1985 and 1993. In 2008, Auckland played both their mandatory defences against Heartland teams on the road.[3]

If a challenger successfully takes the Shield, all of their home matches for the rest of the season are defences of it.

Proposed rule changesEdit

In August 2008, the New Zealand Rugby Union released a competitions review that proposed dramatic changes to the Shield rules:[4]

  • Once a team has successfully defended the Shield four times, all of the holder's subsequent matches in league play would be mandatory defences, whether home or away. The Shield will not be at stake in semifinals or finals.
  • If an Air New Zealand Cup team holds the Shield at the end of the league season, that season's winners of the Meads Cup and Lochore Cup, the two trophies contested in the second-level Heartland Championship, will receive automatic challenges in the following year.

The changes were not implemented but did receive support from Auckland, which held the Shield when the NZRU released its report.[4]


Just under half of the unions that can contest for the Ranfurly Shield do not have an alias. South Canterbury's emblem is their own Coat of Arms. But a soldier represents their green and black colour and current mascot, Tim and Ru. The mascots were originally used during wartime and were created by Ronald Murray.[5] Many of the unions below have this situation, like Poverty Bay's Weka, it resembles their mascot after the 2011 squads post-match photo after the Lochore Cup final.[6]

Team Estab­lished Alias Area Stadia First held
1883 HMS Endeavour Auckland, Auckland Eden Park 1905
1894 Lion Westport, West Coast Victoria Square
Bay of Plenty
1911 Pohutu Geyser Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty Rotorua International Stadium 2004
1879 Lamb Christchurch, Canterbury Rugby League Park 1927
Counties Manukau
1955 Glenbrook Steel Mill Pukekohe, Auckland Growers Stadium 2013
East Coast
1922 Pohutukawa Ruatoria, Gisborne Whakarua Park
Hawke's Bay
1884 Magpie Napier, Hawke's Bay McLean Park 1922
Horowhenua Kapiti
1893 Rugby football Levin, Manawatū-Whanganui Levin Domain 1927
(as Manawhenua)
King Country
1922 Ram Te Kuiti, King Country Owen Delany Park
1886 Wind turbine Palmerston North, Manawatū-Whanganui Central Energy Trust Arena 1927
(as Manawhenua)
Mid Canterbury
1904 Hammer Ashburton, Canterbury Ashburton Showgrounds
1920 Taniwha Whangarei, Northland Okara Park 1950
(as North Auckland)
North Harbour
1985 Hibiscus Albany, Auckland North Harbour Stadium 2006
North Otago
1904 Gold Oamaru, Otago Centennial Park
1881 Razorback Dunedin, Otago Forsyth Barr Stadium 1935
Poverty Bay
1890 Weka Gisborne, Gisborne Rugby Park
1887 Stag Invercargill, Southland Rugby Park Stadium 1920
South Canterbury
1888 Soldier* Timaru, Canterbury Alpine Energy Stadium 1950
1889 Bull New Plymouth, Taranaki Yarrow Stadium 1913
2006 Shortfin mako shark Nelson, Nelson Trafalgar Park 1973
(as Marlborough)
Thames Valley
1922 Swamp Fox Paeroa, Waikato Paeroa Domain
1921 Mooloo Hamilton, Waikato Waikato Stadium 1951
Wairarapa Bush
1971 Castle Rock Masterton, Wellington Memorial Park 1927
(as Wairarapa)
1888 Butcher Whanganui, Manawatū-Whanganui Cooks Gardens
1879 Lion Wellington, Wellington Westpac Stadium 1904
West Coast
1890 Swan Greymouth, West Coast Rugby Park


Match Date Holder Score Challenger Stadia Defences
1. 6 August 1904 Auckland 3–6 Wellington Alexandra Park 0
6. 26 August 1905 Wellington 6–10 Auckland Athletic Park 4
30. 16 August 1913 Auckland 11–14 Taranaki Alexandra Park 23
37. 10 September 1914 Taranaki 6–12 Wellington Victoria Park 6
53. 15 September 1920 Wellington 6–17 Southland Rugby Park 15
55. 10 September 1921 Southland 13–28 Wellington Athletic Park 1
58. 9 August 1922 Wellington 9–19 Hawke's Bay Athletic Park 2
83. 3 June 1927 Hawke's Bay 11–15 Wairarapa McLean Park 24
86. 6 August 1927 Wairarapa 16–18 Manawhenua Showgrounds Oval 2*
89. 7 September 1927 Manawhenua 6–17 Canterbury Showgrounds Oval 2
91. 18 July 1928 Canterbury 7–8 Wairarapa Lancaster Park Oval 1
100. 31 August 1929 Wairarapa 16–19 Southland Showgrounds Oval 8
104. 3 September 1930 Southland 3–12 Wellington Rugby Park 3
106. 22 August 1931 Wellington 6–8 Canterbury Athletic Park 1
122. 21 July 1934 Canterbury 0–9 Hawke's Bay Lancaster Park Oval 15
125. 8 September 1934 Hawke's Bay 14–18 Auckland McLean Park 2
127. 10 August 1935 Auckland 13–16 Canterbury Eden Park 1
132. 21 September 1935 Canterbury 6–15 Otago Lancaster Park Oval 4
141. 31 July 1937 Otago 7–12 Southland Carisbrook Ground 8
142. 30 July 1938 Southland 6–7 Otago Rugby Park 0
148. 10 September 1938 Otago 5–10 Southland Carisbrook Ground 5
160. 2 August 1947 Southland 11–17 Otago Rugby Park 11
179. 16 August 1950 Otago 0–8 Canterbury Carisbrook Ground 18
180. 2 September 1950 Canterbury 0–3 Wairarapa Lancaster Park Oval 0
181. 16 September 1950 Wairarapa 14–17 South Canterbury Solway Showgrounds Oval 0
182. 30 September 1950 South Canterbury 9–20 North Auckland Fraser Park 0
185. 18 August 1951 North Auckland 3–6 Waikato Rugby Park 2
192. 9 August 1952 Waikato 0–9 Auckland Rugby Park 6
193. 23 August 1952 Auckland 3–6 Waikato Eden Park 0
200. 1 August 1953 Waikato 6–9 Wellington Rugby Park 6
206. 19 September 1953 Wellington 3–24 Canterbury Athletic Park 5
230. 22 September 1956 Canterbury 0–8 Wellington Lancaster Park Oval 23
235. 24 August 1957 Wellington 11–19 Otago Athletic Park 4
237. 28 September 1957 Otago 9–11 Taranaki Carisbrook 1
251. 5 September 1959 Taranaki 6–23 Southland Rugby Park 13
  • Wairarapa's 1927-era saw them lose to Hawke's Bay 21–10 at Solway Showgrounds Oval, but was subsequently awarded the shield back on a residential breach.

Overall recordsEdit

Team Wins Successful Defences Average Defences
  Auckland 16 148 9.25
  Canterbury 16 139 8.69
  Waikato 13 60 4.62
  Wellington 10 40 4
  Taranaki 7 48 8
  Southland 7 25 3.14
  Otago 6 38 6.17
  Hawke's Bay 5 60 11.2
  Northland 4 14 3.5
  Wairarapa 3 10 3.33
  South Canterbury 2 1 0.5
  Manawatu 1 13 13
  Counties Manukau 1 6 6
  Marlborough 1 6 6
  North Harbour 1 3 3
  Manawhenua 1 2 2
  Bay of Plenty 1 1 1

Last updated: after Otago's fifth defense of 2019, against Taranaki on 8 September.

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Chester, Rod; McMillan, Neville; Palenski, Ron (1987). The Encyclopedia of New Zealand Rugby. Auckland, New Zealand: Moa Publications. p. 266. ISBN 0-908570-16-3.
  2. ^ According to Dunedin engraver Brian Swan, who noted the "very low" crossbar in the centrepiece scene, quoted in "Shield victory recalls origins of famous rugby trophy" by anonymous columnist 'Prester John' in Otago Daily Times, 2013-08-31, p35 (not published online).
  3. ^ "Auckland accepts two Ranfurly Shield challenges". New Zealand Rugby Union. 6 December 2007. Retrieved 15 January 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Hawke's Bay claim Ranfurly Shield glory". Stuff.co.nz. Fairfax NZ News. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Mascots back in green and black". Stuff. 24 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Lochore Cup Final - South Canterbury v Poverty Bay". Zimbo. 8 October 2011.

External linksEdit