Plans are being made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most famous games in Hawke's Bay rugby next month.

The anniversary on September 24, coinciding with Hawke's Bay's home Mitre 10 Cup national championship match against Tasman, will mark half-a-century since Hawke's Bay beat Waikato 6-0 in Hamilton to lift the Ranfurly Shield, bringing rugby's greatest prize back to Hawke's Bay for the first time in 31 years and starting a tumultuous reign of 21 successful defences in front of huge crowds at McLean Park in Napier before losing to Canterbury in the last scheduled defence 1969.

HBRFU commercial and marketing manager Jay Campbell said the anniversary is still being planned but will include a reunion of players.

The winning team was: Fullback Ian Bishop; wings Dennis Smith, Mick Duncan; centre Bill Davis; five-eighths Ian MacRae; Max Loughlan; halfback Hepa Paewai; No 8 Tom Johnson; flankers Gerry Stone, Kel Tremain (captain); locks David Kirkpatrick, Karaan Crawford; props Lou Cooper, Neil Thimbleby; hooker Gus Meech.


Under the guidance of coach Colin Le Quesne, who played in Hawke's Bay's most recent previous shield successes in 1934 and who became coach in 1957, winning the shield had by 1966 become not only a rugby dream but a provincial ambition, rising from one of the low points - a 52-12, 13-tries-to-one hammering in the opening match of the 1959 British Isles tour of New Zealand. In modern-day points-scoring it would have been 78-14.

The Bay was to come particularly close in three challenges in the protracted buildup, losing 3-5 to Auckland in 1961, drawing 3-3 with Auckland in 1963, and losing 17-21 to Taranaki in 1965.

The 1966 opportunity came by surprise, after Waikato won a challenge against Auckland four weeks earlier.

By the time, Hawke's Bay's new tenure ended, it had established Hawke's Bay as one of the greatest unions Ranfurly Shield history, which was first presented in 1904. It was the fifth longest tenure in terms of the number of defences, headed by Auckland's 25 in 1960-63 and Hawke's Bay's 24 in 1922-27, Hawke's Bay's 50 successful defence was headed only by Auckland's 60, and fullback Ian Bishop, who landed the sole successful kick in the 1966 win in Hamilton, had risen to the top of the list of points scorers.

While some were relieved that the shield had moved on, such was the impact across many sectors of the Hawke's Bay culture and economy it was soon a dream to win it again, a wait which lasted 43 years.

After beating Otago 20-19 in Dunedin, it was only six days before it was lost to Counties Manukau, from it was regained in 2014, starting a year-long reign before it was lost to Waikato.

The Bay is scheduled to challenge Waikato on October 8.