Auckland accepts two Ranfurly Shield challenges
Auckland Rugby has announced plans to take the Ranfurly Shield on the road in 2008 after accepting two challenges from Poverty Bay and North Otago.
"We were keen to get the Ranfurly Shield into heartland New Zealand and the opportunity to play both Poverty Bay and North Otago prior to the Air New Zealand Cup next year is an excellent result," says Auckland coach, Pat Lam.
Both North Otago (2007 winners of the Meads Cup) and Poverty Bay (2007 winners of the Lochore Cup) requested a challenge and are delighted at the prospect of bringing the Ranfurly Shield into their province, with the first match taking place on July 15 in Poverty Bay.
“The prospect of having a Ranfurly Shield Challenge in Gisborne against the Air NZ Cup winners Auckland is mouth watering to say the least. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players and I’m sure the Gisborne public will make this an unforgettable experience for the Auckland players and management,“ says Poverty Bay CEO, Neil Alton.
While not obligated to take on Ranfurly Shield challenges outside of the Air New Zealand Cup, Auckland wanted to get on the road with the log of wood says Auckland Rugby CEO, Andy Dalton.
“We can play two challenges from affiliated unions not in the premier division. So we will play these two games in July next year, prior to the beginning of Air New Zealand Cup. The Ranfurly Shield is such an important part of New Zealand rugby tradition and I’m sure the matches will be well supported in both Poverty Bay and North Otago.”
Colin Jackson, CEO of North Otago has no doubt the shield challenge will draw a big North Otago crowd for the game on July 22.
“Everyone in North Otago is looking forward to entertaining the Auckland boys and it will be a great occasion for a small but very proud provincial union.”