Click: PDF to see a list of all Shield challenge games from 1974 to 2019
The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is a major trophy in NZ's domestic competition.
In 1901, the Governor of NZ (and Patron of the NZRFU), the Earl of Ranfuly, announced that he would present a trophy to the NZRFU to be used as a 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 thereafter be the subject of a challenge system.
The Shield was designed as a trophy for football (soccer), not rugby. The picture in the centrepiece was then modified by adding goal posts to create a rugby scene. the alterations are still apparent.
Auckland, unbeaten in 1902, were presented with the Shield.
Auckland went on tour in 1903 and did not play any home games, and thus did not have to defend the Shield. The first defence was agaianst Wellington in 1904 and was unsuccessful.
The Shield is based on a challenge system. The holding union must defend the Shield in challenge matches, and a successful challenger becomes the new holder of the Shield. The new holder of the Shield automatically puts it up for challenge at all their remaining home games.
Since the advent of the National Provinicial Championship (NPC), in 1976, and its successors, all home games (but not knockout playoff games) are automatically challenge matches.
The Shield holder is required to accept at least seven challenges. Some of these may be from unions in the other domestic competition. The Shield holder is not required to defend the Shield in away games, although they may choose to do so.
Some major unions have, in the past, taken Shield challenges away to minor unions.
In 1994, after Canterbury won the Shield, 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, bring it back to pristine condition.
Winner's names are traditionally engraved on small shields, along with the years in which they held the Shield. In 2012 the last of these shileds was filled in, so the whole set was replaced to allow room for more winners in the future, as well as recognising those teams who have held it.