North Shore to celebrate win with reception and parade

By Michelle Coursey, Lee Rowberry

North Shore rugby fans are getting ready to welcome the Ranfurly Shield to its new home in style.

To celebrate North Harbour's victory over Canterbury on Saturday - the union's first big trophy in 21 years - a civic reception will be held on Thursday morning at the North Shore City Council building in Takapuna.

Mayor George Wood will launch a parade at 12.30pm.

Players, supporters and sponsors will travel along Hurstmere Rd, and via the East Coast Bays to the North Harbour Stadium, where the public will have the opportunity to touch the Log o' Wood and get autographs.

Mr Wood said North Harbour did not have the traditions and history of other unions, but that was all about to change.

"This is the start of a new dawn for North Harbour rugby. It's going to be great to get a lot more of the community behind them."

Rodney Mayor John Law is in China but he emailed the team to congratulate them for doing what just about everybody else has had been unable to do - wrest the Ranfurly Shield from Canterbury.

North Harbour coach Allan Pollock told the Herald yesterday that he hoped the win would help set North Harbour apart.

"This is bigger than rugby," he said. "We're our own province outside of Auckland. We're much more diverse than what people think. This is a chance for the region to define itself."

North Harbour Rugby Union chief executive Brett Hollister agreed: "We're happy to be part of the Blues but we're also happy to be our own provincial union, and we enjoy that rivalry."

He said the win was a substantial achievement for North Harbour rugby.


SHIELD COUNTRY

What does North Harbour's Ranfurly Shield victory mean?
We asked North Shore people for their views.

* JEROME TE PAA, 16
It's cool that all the provinces get together and compete for it. North Shore is way better than Auckland. We're only across the bridge but we won it, not them.


* PETER COULSON, 57
Let's be pleased our province has won something they've never won before, but it won't make me any richer.


* CELIA PANKHURST, 41
I just think it's brilliant. Especially going against Canterbury - good on them. I might have to reconsider my alliance to Auckland though, might support Harbour instead.


* MICHELLE BROCK, 16
It was really, really good, because I heard that our team didn't have that much experience. But everyone is really excited, and I'm proud of what my region's done.


* GRAHAM RADUE, 'over 20'
It's fantastic! It encourages our rugby here, and there's young people coming up who will be helped by this. I'm hoping for some more All Blacks from that team.


* RIAAN GELDENHUYS, 34
It's a good time to live in the North Shore, isn't it? The win should boost rugby and I think - or hope - we'll hold on to the shield for at least the next two years.

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