NZ Rugby investigating claims drugs snorted off Ranfurly Shield

New Zealand Rugby is investigating claims drugs were snorted off the Ranfurly Shield during Hawke's Bay's celebrations over the weekend.

An image circulating on social media appears to show a white powder on the shield, with the caption "They snorted drugs off the frickin Ranfurly."

A "deeply disappointed" NZ Rugby is investigating the photo and says it will repossess the Shield to assess the damage.

A Hawke's Bay player has also reportedly been charged by police with the incident being treated as an employment matter.

The allegations come a day after social media images showed the iconic provincial prize broken in two. Halfback Folau Fakatava is pictured standing over the splintered remains of the shield, although the union has cleared him of causing the damage.

"New Zealand Rugby is aware of significant damage to the Ranfurly Shield and we are deeply disappointed,'' NZ Rugby general manager community rugby Steve Lancaster. 

"We are also aware of images circulating on social media and, as a result, NZR has launched an investigation to understand what has occurred. 

"The shield has undergone a tremendous amount of restoration work over the past 12 months to ensure it remains a focal point and source of pride for the rugby community. 

"NZR will now take possession of the shield, begin the process of repair and reassess the protocols in place to look after it. 

"Our intention is that the Ranfurly Shield remains a part of the community, is enjoyed by the those who hold it and cared for as a taonga of our game." 

On Saturday, the Magpies scored a converted try in the dying stages against Wellington to win the Ranfurly Shield.

On Sunday, Hawke's Bay Rugby Union chief executive Jay Campbell insisted the damage to the shield was a "genuine accident" and not the result of excessive celebrations.

"Hawke's Bay has a rich and proud history with the Log of Wood, and we are incredibly proud of our performance yesterday and to once again be shield holders," said Campbell.

Hawke's Bay players with the shield.
Hawke's Bay players with the shield. Photo credit: Photosport

"Having taken some time to understand from those present what has happened, this was a genuine accident, which occurred this morning, when a player has unfortunately dropped the Shield onto a concrete kitchen floor.

"Hawke's Bay Rugby and our players understand the significance of this special taonga and its unique place within NZ rugby, including our own rich history. Everyone involved is incredibly upset and devastated by what has happened, especially as it as a genuine accident.

"We are very disappointed that a video has being [sic] shared on social media and can confirm that the individual in the video is not responsible for the damage. Posting on social media is not appropriate, given the seriousness of this situation, and we will be speaking with our team."

The Union said it takes "full responsibility" for the damage, which they will carry out and pay for "immediately".