Playing for keeps

The Otago rugby team train at Forsyth Barr Stadium ahead of their final Ranfurly Shield defence...
The Otago rugby team train at Forsyth Barr Stadium ahead of their final Ranfurly Shield defence of the season on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
“Otago meets Waterloo” — a jarring headline for anyone reading almost 70 years ago.

It was published in the Otago Daily Times the day after the province last surrendered the Ranfurly Shield to Canterbury.

The story was accompanied by a photograph of the assistant manager gleefully and carefully placing the shield in a case for transportation to Christchurch.

About 12,000 people flocked to Carisbrook on August 16, 1950 in the expectation Otago’s long tenure would continue.

They were greeted with driving rain and “it was a bewildered crowd which streamed out into the sodden streets” after the final whistle.

“Outplayed and outgeneralled” the next story read.

Canterbury scored two tries and landed a conversion to win 8-0 — tries were worth just three points back then.

Tonight, Otago will be hoping to send its fans back into the streets in a much happier mood.

The home side has been playing some sparkling rugby.

Wingers Jona Nareki and Vilimoni Koroi have posted 13 tries between them, and are joined by the likes of Michael Collins and Josh Ioane in a talented Otago backline.

Canterbury has been a pale shade of its usual self this season. It is in third place in the Premiership with four wins from eight games.

But it has history on its side and it has not lost a game to Otago in 14 years.

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