Written by Joshua Dean
The Ranfurly Shield has been used in New Zealand’s domestic rugby union competitions for over 115 years. It is based on a challenge system, where the shield is up for grabs only when the shield holders are playing at home. If the challenger is successful, they become the new holders of the shield.
It’s a great idea as every challenge is a sudden-death game with any team, no matter where they stand on the ladder, having an opportunity to take the shield. It would be great for fans of clubs who no longer have a chance of making the finals. Once your team has no hope of of being there at the business end of the season, it can feel pointless.
But imagine when a club out of finals contention gets a shield challenge match. It would give the fans a chance to watch a game that actually means something. In New Zealand rugby union, shield challenges bring a finals type atmosphere even when two bottom clubs are participating. Players just lift for shield games and it give fans that normally only watch their favourite team something else to get hyped for every week.
The NRL could name the shield in honour of someone who has given great service to the game and also get a sponsor on board which would generate more revenue for the game.
If I was Todd Greenburg, I’d be giving some serious thought to introducing something like the Ranfurly Shield to the NRL as soon as possible as only positives and added excitement would be gained.