Waikato secure Ranfurly Shield, to cheers of delight from fans

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Waikato secure Ranfurly Shield, to cheers of delight from fans
NEW PLYMOUTH, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Jack Stratton of Waikato (C) and his team mates lift the Ranfurly Shield after their win in the round four Mitre 10 Cup Ranfurly Shield match between Taranaki and Waikato at Yarrow Stadium on September 9, 2018 in New Plymouth, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

To the cheers of delight from fans, the Waikato Rugby team have secured the Ranfurly Shield. They defeated holders Taranaki, to ‘steal away the silverware’ 19-33.

Challenging for the Ranfurly Shield a pure motivation factor in itself. Sides who might not have demonstrated the ability, suddenly rise in stature – and that is exactly what occurred on Sunday afternoon, in New Plymouth.

Waikato secure Ranfurly Shield, to cheers of delight from fans

With it’s 114 year-strong history within New Zealand rugby, this is one prize that brings cheers of delight from fans. Taranki felt that same elation when they had claimed the shield in 2017. And this time, it was Waikato fans smiling widely.

That added to the jubilation of players and management (see below) after ripping the Ranfurly Shield out of the holders grasp.

Like other famous ‘challenge-based trophies’ – the Ryder Cup [Golf], Davis Cup [Tennis], the America’s Cup [Sailing] – the Ranfurly Shield is an iconic item in New Zealand rugby folklore. Recognized widely, the news of this triumph by Waikato soon reached mainstream media.

Not in the same fashion as a championship or tournament, the ‘win it or lose it’ type of rugby match is very much an opportunity. An opportunity for any team to wrangle away the prize. So when the predictions were made in the months, weeks and days prior, few, in fact, had presumed that Waikato had the stock to wrestle away the Shield.

But as in many one-off challenges, it came down to heart, as much as form.

On that day; Sunday September 9, the record will show that Waikato was the stronger team. By the scoreboard, by the manner in how they performed too.

Waikato 33 – Tries: Dwayne Sweeney, Adam Burn, James Tucker, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Quinn Tupaea; Conversions: Fletcher Smith (4)

Taranaki 19 – Tries: Regan Ware, Manasa Mataele, Seta Tamanivalu; Cons: Beaudein Waaka (2)

Looking at that performance, the evidence is that this Ranfurly Shield game was won in the opening 40 minutes. Waikato put their all into attacking the opening half, and then – to their credit – the challengers held on, while Taranaki made a desperate attempt to fight back.

That might be the one aspects that MooLoo fans can be most satisfied with. After an all-out attack, the side protected and withheld the advantage. A magnificent effort will be cherished, just as much as the coveted prize.

Ranfurly Shield safe in Waikato’s hands …for now

When the team arrived back from their match in New Plymouth, the scene was one of jubilation. That will have been from the reception by staffs at the Airport, and in being greeted by supporters and well-wishers.

This is the power of sport. A way to bring fans and stakeholders together, in the shared triumph of the victory. That might sound quaint; in a world where a sporting Superstar can ‘lose it’ during a Gand Slam final. But in the reality of competition, the range of emotions does cover all bases. That is from the victors; for the huge effort by Waikato. A team whom few had backed in their challenge, yet who triumphed – and continued the proud Ranfurly Shield history.

And for Taranaki. A side who were vanquished, yet while they might have felt the loss of a sporting fixture, they can always be reminded that in the national provincial championship – every challenging team, has the chance to ‘win back’ the shield.

That can be the next goal for the ‘Naki boys.

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Note: both teams continue their 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaigns, as each faces Week Five fixtures:

Waikato v Hawke’s Bay – Thursday, September 13, 7:35pm

Tasman v Taranaki – Friday, September 14, 7:35pm

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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