The countdown has begun with just four weeks separating Canterbury Rugby’s Mitre 10 Cup side and their first Ranfurly Shield defence for 2020.
North Otago will travel north to Christchurch on August 28 in a bid to uplift one of New Zealand’s most prized trophies.
“The Ranfurly Shield has so much history and intrigue and it doesn’t matter who you play, the challenges always seem to grow an arm and a leg, so putting it on the line against North Otago will be a great opportunity for our guys to test themselves,” said Canterbury Mitre 10 Co-Coach Reuben Thorne.
The home side have held the old ‘log of wood’ since wrestling it off Otago in a frantic 35-25 victory on October 5th last year.
“I remember watching Shield games as a kid, and I have some great memories as a player too, not all of them winning the Shield either, so there’s plenty of work to do to ensure we create some great memories as a coach now too,” added Thorne.
Thorne’s Co-Coach Mark Brown echoed that sentiment.
“We’re really happy with the squad we are assembling for this Mitre 10 Cup campaign and putting the Ranfurly Shield on the line the first time out will no doubt provide plenty of motivation for our guys to perform too.”
Canterbury has seen off the challenge from North Otago on four other occasions, with the closest of margins being in 1971, when Canterbury held on for a 14-nil victory. Other results saw Canterbury retain the shield 88-nil in 1983, 85-24 in 2003 and 52-8 in 2011.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a Heartland Championship in it’s normal sense this year, but as the current champions we were never going to pass up the opportunity to have a crack for the Ranfurly Shield,” said North Otago CEO Colin Jackson.
“We welcome the challenge from North Otago,” said Canterbury Rugby CEO Tony Smail. “No matter who the opposition is, a Shield challenge is always a special occasion and putting it on the line will be a great way for our Mitre10 Cup side to get their season underway.”
The match will be played at Christchurch’s Rugby Park and kick off is at 14:00 with a five dollar entry fee applied.
Should Canterbury retain it on August 28 it’ll again go on the line at Canterbury’s first Mitre 10 Cup home game in 2020 against Taranaki on September 19.