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Hawke's Bay confirm two Shield challenges

Hawke's Bay rugby
Hawke's Bay took the Ranfurly Shield off Wellington in 2023. PHOTO: DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

Hawke’s Bay Rugby have confirmed the two Heartland Championship unions that will challenge the Magpies for the Log o' Wood in 2024.

2023 Meads Cup winners South Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay neighbours King Country will both travel to Hawke’s Bay to challenge for the coveted Shield.

King Country will head across the Napier-Taupo Road to challenge on Wednesday, June 26 at a yet undecided venue. If the Magpies are successful against the Rams, they then face South Canterbury for the second time in three years at Napier’s McLean Park on Saturday , July 27, with a family-friendly 3pm kick-off.

"Challenging for the Shield is not something that every player in NZ has the opportunity to do throughout their career. Both King Country and South Canterbury performed well in their respective competitions last season and we expect very enthusiastic, tough games against both of these proud unions.

"The players who earn the right to represent the Magpies in these games will be aware we will need to be at our best to ensure we earn the right to defend the shield again," said Magpies coach Brock James.

The Magpies that defend the Shield for these two games will be a mixture of local club players and players who have returned from Major League Rugby (United States) and Super Rugby Pacific commitments.

James confirmed there will be real competition for spots as club-based players show form over the club season as James and his selectors watch with interest during the early rounds.

‘’The team are looking forward to once again playing Hawke's Bay, like we did in 2022 where the game was very competitive. We are fully aware that the 'Hawke's Bay Maggie Pies' will be waiting for us in full force," South Canterbury Rugby CEO Tim Hyde-Smith.

Should the Magpies be successful in defending the shield against the two Heartland opponents, the Magpies next defence will be against NPC opposition to be confirmed when the NPC draw is released next week.

"Being Shield holders and competing for the NPC title is a real balancing act, but the coaches and leaders are excited about the challenges this brings but need to lay the platform and it all starts with King Country on June 26 and we can’t wait to rip into it," James said.


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