Rugby: Time now to make some cash

All the stress and hard work of 18 months ago was vindicated for former Otago rugby head Wayne Graham after winning the Ranfurly Shield, while the union says it needs a big crowd on Sunday to start making some money from the trophy.

The shield journeyed around sponsors and offices in Dunedin yesterday, and will head to the Clutha region today.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said the union was hoping for a large turnout on Sunday for the first defence against Hawkes Bay.

''The first thing is when we get a big crowd it really gives the guys in the team a lot of encouragement and helps them a lot,'' he said.

''And we want to get bums on seats so we can start getting some money out of it. We are hoping for a crowd of 20,000 which would be massive for an ITM Cup game.''

Kinley said this year was tougher than last year in a financial sense, and the union had to be very prudent.

''I'm not trying to be the Grinch at Christmas but we have not made a dollar out of this yet.''

Kinley said he has been really surprised by the interest in the trophy and the past few days had been somewhat surreal.

Board chairman Doug Harvie said the impact of the shield had already been huge but at the moment no revenue had been made out of it.

He hoped for a big crowd and urged people to get along.

The New Zealand Rugby Union had covered the costs of the union for three months of last year when the union was in financial strife. This year, Otago had to pay the costs for the entire year.

''We are realistic about what we are going to get from the ground with the deal we have with DVML. But we want to get as many people as we can into the ground,'' Harvie said.

It was great to see how excited people were about winning the shield, he said.

About 3000 tickets have been sold for the match.

Graham was the chairman of the union when it narrowly avoided liquidation early last year.

''It was an incredibly determined effort, really, from the players on Friday night ... from a personal point of view it made it extra special,'' Graham said.

''All the stresses and the tough problems that we have had to face have been resolved now and we can look ahead to the future.

''To get us out of the predicament took the generosity of a whole lot of people and what we saw over the weekend showed it was worthwhile. It gives the community focus.''

Graham did not seek election to the board when it was overhauled last year.

Former board member John Faulks, who helped contribute financially to the rescue package, said he always believed in Otago rugby.

''I have always been a believer that a big part of Otago life is sport and Otago rugby is a part of that and its history,'' Faulks said.

''Just the way it touches people's lives ... to me, kids can get some really key things out of rugby. Things like discipline and camaraderie. That is huge.

''I was at Lincoln when Canterbury had the shield in the 1980s and I saw then what the shield could do for a province.''

Faulks, who was at the game in Hamilton last Friday night, said he had spoken to many Otago people over the past few days and many of them had thought the winning of the Log o' Wood would never happen.

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