Wellington confirm pre-season Ranfurly Shield challenges

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South Canterbury secured its challenge when winning the Meads Cup last year. As a consecutive winner of the Bunnings Heartland title, it will be its second challenge in two years.

Wellington Rugby's chief executive Shannon Paku said: "It's fantastic to be taking the Ranfurly Shield to Levin, not only for them to host a Shield challenge, but it's also great to be able to have the opportunity to defend it against our close neighbours.

"If we are successful in defending the Shield against Horowhenua Kapiti, we know we'll have a tough task ahead with South Canterbury."

Wellington lifted the Shield from Hawke's Bay towards the end of 2022 and defended it once against Waikato.

Horowhenua Kapiti will host the first challenge at the Levin Domain on July 12.

Horowhenua Kapiti Rugby chief executive Corey Kennett said: "Horowhenua Kapiti Rugby Football Union is incredibly thankful to Wellington for granting us a Ranfurly Shield challenge, and the fact that our challenge is being held in Levin is awesome.

"The Ranfurly Shield, its history, its mana, and the prestige that it is held in, is still very much alive and strong in the 'nua, so the opportunity for our players, management, supporters and community to be part of a Ranfurly Shield challenge is fantastic."

Horowhenua Kapiti fans with long memories recall the challenge when Auckland brought the Shield south. The game launched former All Black Carlos Spencer onto the national psyche.