Change is in the air for the Mitre 10 Cup and it is not hard to see why.
Otago will have three warm-up games - two involving Ranfurly Shield challenges - before the Mitre 10 Cup kicks off.
Epi Vula (left) and Marika Baleca, of Oamaru, pose with the Ranfurly Shield, at Whitestone Cheese in Oamaru yesterday.
They came in their thousands to Eden Park, braved the heavy rain which began halfway through the first half, and were rewarded with an extra-time classic – Auckland winning their first national...
Perhaps it was just one game too many. After heroic wins the past two weeks, Otago were comprehensively beaten by Waikato in tonight's Mitre 10 Cup Championship final in Hamilton.
It all comes down to certain players in big games. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn looks at three players from each side who could be difference in tonight's final in Hamilton.
Otago assistant coach Tom Donnelly believes himself and those he coaches have made huge strides this season.
Josh Ioane slotted a penalty after the hooter to win the Mitre 10 Cup championship semifinal over Hawke's Bay at Forsyth Barr Stadium tonight.
Otago has plenty of work to do to get back into the Mitre 10 Cup championship semifinal at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Auckland's golden season continues – they will host Canterbury in next Saturday's Mitre 10 Cup final thanks to a controlled but at times inspired victory over Wellington.
The Mitre 10 Cup semifinals take place tonight and tomorrow. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn picks which sides will make the final four.
Otago fullback Michael Collins will play his 50th game for the province when he leads the side into battle against Hawke's Bay tomorrow.
Otago will be without form winger Jona Nareki this week and for the Mitre 10 Cup Championship final - should it make it - but absent hooker Liam Coltman will be sighted.
Watch as the Otago rugby team come home to a hero's welcome with the Ranfurly Shield after beating Waikato in Hamilton last night.
The Otago team will fly home with the Ranfurly Shield in tow today and are scheduled to land in Dunedin late this afternoon.
The beer was flowing inside Otago's changing room as the side celebrated a famous Ranfurly Shield win over Waikato with euphoric song and dance.