It is a match the North Otago Rugby Supporters Club would not miss for the world.
At least 20 club members will make the trip north to cheer on North Otago as it challenges Hawke’s Bay for the Ranfurly Shield on Wednesday, the Old Golds’ third shield challenge in as many years.
An “advanced party” of supporters will arrive on Tuesday, and the rest on Wednesday.
Supporters club chairman Ralph Davies said the group was excited about its first trip away for the North Otago season.
“This is no mean feat with two flights and transfers to Timaru Airport at 4.30am but we are up for it,” Davies said.
For many club members, it would be their first Hawke’s Bay experience, and first time watching rugby at Hawke’s Bay’s McLean Park.
Alongside the Old Golds match, club members have organised a pre-match tour with local Hawkes Bay rugby identities to learn about their culture and shield tenures.
Hawke’s Bay took the Ranfurly Shield from Otago last year. It is the third-most-successful defender in the 117 years since the shield was first contested in 1904
North Otago Rugby Supporters Club stalwart Chris Rawson said there was no doubt Hawke’s Bay had a great legacy, but the club was prepared to make plenty of noise to help the Old Golds bring the shield home.
“In typical North Otago Supporters Club manner, we will be mixing and mingling with the Hawke’s Bay rugby fraternity to ensure they know our pedigree and we will be heard come match time.
North Otago coach Jason Forrest said it was a fantastic feeling knowing the supporters club was behind the team.
“They’re as loyal as they come. We’re very thankful for those guys putting their crew together and coming up to support us – that’ll be massive for our boys because I know they will definitely hear them on the sidelines,” Forrest said.