Rugby: New Zealand Rugby officials, greats react to Hawke's Bay's desecration of Ranfurly Shield

One of New Zealand's most storied trophies, the Ranfurly Shield, is at the centre of a drug and drink-driving controversy.  

Just hours after Hawke's Bay won it in dramatic fashion it's been broken but, incredibly, that's not the worst of it.

Pictures circulating on social media suggest drugs may have been taken on its surface.

And police have confirmed after a car accident the same night, a 24-year-old player was charged with drink-driving. At 3:35am on Sunday, a allegedly car hit a fence in Napier, leading to the charge.

It was a moment of unbridled joy when the Magpies lifted the Log o'Wood after beating Wellington.

After all, winning the Ranfurly Shield has been the pinnacle of provincial rugby since 1904. After withstanding 118 years of celebrations, it was restored in recent months.

But that changed on Saturday night.

Hawke's Bay celebrate winning the Ranfurly Shield.
Hawke's Bay celebrate winning the Ranfurly Shield. Photo credit: Photosport

Hawke's Bay Rugby told NZ Rugby the trophy broke when it was dropped on a concrete kitchen floor but that two-cap All Black Folau Fakatava, the man holding the trophy in pictures circulated, was not responsible. 

"We've had some pretty consistent feedback out of Hawke's Bay that it was dropped," said NZR's general manager of community rugby Steve Lancaster.   

"Dropped from a reasonable height by a fairly tall player, I'm told, onto a high surface."  

It didn't end there. A photo showing white powder and what looks like a small tube on its surface suggests that if drugs weren't snorted off the broken trophy, someone was trying to make it look like they were.  

"We've seen the same images everyone else has seen," Lancaster added. "But at the moment, that's all we've seen.  

"We've commenced an investigation to understand exactly what's been going on around the shield. We'll let that investigation take its course."  

Former All Black Bernie McCahill was part of the Auckland team that held the trophy for eight years in the 80s and 90s, and made his feelings perfectly clear.   

"I'm pretty disappointed," he told Newshub. "The aura that went with that Ranfurly Shield it seems to have diminished which is sad.   

"I know they want to keep that community thing alive, but if the respect has gone, well it's a sad day for rugby."  

If it was dropped, McCahill said that's almost understandable but there's more to it than that.  

"You hear a bit of that partying going on these days and there seems to be no respect anymore," he continued.   

"I am a bit saddened to hear that it's broken, and more in particular that the drugs may have been taken off the thing."

In McCahill's day the late Peter Fatialofa was the designated minder and McCahill said he'd guard it with his life.  

On social media, The Magpies say they are proud to represent Hawke's Bay.    

"We've got a community here in Hawke's Bay they love their rugby," the union said. "They love the Magpies. 

"We need to make sure when we're making decisions about what they would perceive would be in the best interests of Magpie rugby."  

But no one from Hawke's Bay Rugby would talk to Newshub, and instead referred back to NZ Rugby, who are still reeling from the loss.  

"Disbelief was my immediate reaction, after all the work that's gone into restoring the Shield," said Lancaster. "I thought someone was pulling my leg at first actually.  

"It's hard to stomach."  

The Shield is now back with New Zealand Rugby in Wellington, who'll work out what needs to be done to repair it - again - and the protocols around repairing it in the future.