Otago rugby supporters Margaret Grundy, Stu Carse and their
chihuahua-maltese cross Emma show their allegiance outside
their St Clair home on Saturday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The Otago rugby team was greeted by an emotional crowd at
Dunedin airport on Saturday. More than 1000 jubilant blue and
yellow-clad fans filled the airport to welcome the Ranfurly
''Welcome Home, Mr Brown's Boys'' a large banner in the
departure lounge read.
The arrival of the team, and its precious cargo, was delayed
by two hours, after fog prevented a scheduled flight from
Hamilton and it had to travel by bus to Auckland for an
A huge roar greeted the appearance of captain Paul Grant as
he entered the arrival lounge at 4pm holding aloft the Log o'
But the biggest cheer was for coach and former Otago player
Tony Brown, who engineered the recapture of the shield after
56 long years.
''We heard there might be a few people coming out to meet us
at the airport, but we didn't expect anything like this,''
''It's incredible. What an atmosphere.''
There were tears and expressions of joy at the sight of the
Former Otago Rugby Football Union president Graeme Renton
(73), whose grandson Josh Renton is the Otago reserve
halfback, was a schoolboy at King Edward Technical College
when Otago last held the shield.
''I was there when we lost it to Taranaki in 1957,'' he
''To finally bring it back is great and it's really great for
the boys. Hopefully, it will do Otago rugby a lot of good.''
Most of the crowd had not yet been born the last time the
shield was in Otago hands.
''I've been waiting all my life for this. I'm just so happy.
I've got tears in my eyes,'' 50-year-old Otago stalwart Dean
Even the airport staff joined in the fun, with runway staff
dressed in blue and yellow overalls and the baggage carts
decorated with cardboard shields and an unfortunate
''Ranfurly Sheild'' sign.
Young and old rejoiced as the shield was passed hand to hand
around the crowd.
''This is great to see. It shows the immense pride in our
province,'' Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said.
After signing autographs and posing for photographs for an
hour, the victorious Otago players finally managed to board
However, there was an unscheduled stop at the Dunedin welcome
sign, near Allanton, to greet 14 university students dressed
in tutus who had staged a victory dance on top of it.