Video: Large crowd welcomes Shield-bearers

A large crowd of around 1000 blue and yellow-bedecked rugby fans filled the Dunedin Airport to welcome back the Otago team and the Ranfurly Shield today.

A huge roar greeted the appearance of captain Paul Grant as he entered the arrival lounge at 4pm holding aloft the Log 'o Wood.

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," Brown said.

"It's incredible. What an atmosphere."

Young and old rejoiced at the sight of the Shield back on Otago soil as it 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, who was on hand to welcome the team, said.

"Otago rugby has had its trials and tribulations over the years and this is the very best way to restore our pride - with victory on the paddock."

After signing seemingly endless autographs and posing for nearly as many photographs, the victorious Otago players finally managed to board their bus an hour after landing.

However, they did pause at the Welcome to Dunedin sign, to greet 14 university students dressed in tutus who were staging a spectacular victory dance on top of the monument.

The team's arrival was somewhat belated after fog delayed their flight from Hamilton. The players ended up taking a bus to Auckland and flying home from there.

Otago team manager Grant Hubbard said fans could meet the players and see the Shield at Forsyth Barr Stadium from 3:30pm tomorrow.