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All aboard . . . North Otago Rugby Supporters Club set off to Dunedin last Friday to watch the Highlanders take on the Hurricanes. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

From Napier to Westport – there is nowhere the North Otago Rugby Supporters Club will not go to support their beloved rugby teams this season.

The supporters club is gearing up for a massive season, and kicked things off with a trip to Dunedin last Friday to support the Highlanders against the Hurricanes.

About 12 people were on the supporters bus, and chairman Ralph Davies said it was always a good adventure.

“We will play our part in getting in behind the Highlanders with a trip down the road to Dunedin for home matches under the roof,” Davies said.

It was the first of three Highlanders games the group would travel to watch, leading into the North Otago Rugby club season starting on April 17.

And then came the big one – a Ranfurly Shield Challenge for the North Otago Heartland team against Hawkes Bay, in June.

“[It] backs up from challenges against Otago and Canterbury over the previous two seasons, and the supporters always enjoy a roady.”

As the Old Golds still held the Meads Cup, following last year’s Heartland Championship cancellation, it provided the special opportunity for three challenges in three seasons, he said.

The nearly seven-hour trip to Westport to watch the team take on Buller would, as always, be a highlight on the calendar.

“Nothing beats a trip to the West Coast to absorb their hospitality.”

The group was prepared for a big season supporting the region’s top representative side, and the club competition.

“It’s way too early to say how we will go, but North Otago Rugby have invested in bringing through a crop of young players to augment some tried and true warriors, so you can be sure the Old Golds will be pushing hard to continue their legacy as Heartland legends,” Davies said.

About 50 people were involved in the supporters club, and all would attend various matches throughout the season, he said.

North Otago Rugby chief executive Colin Jackson said the union and its players had a deep appreciation for the supporters club.

“The players love the support – and the supporters club have been there and doing a fantastic job for a long time now . . . and that’s home and away, which is fantastic,” Jackson said.

The club rugby season was shaping up to be an interesting one, as the competition changed to two rounds this season.

“Every Saturday will be meaningful. I think in the top four, it’s going to be tight.”