Paying in the Heinz Wattie's Ross Shield primary school tournament can be the start of an illustrious representative or All Blacks future, former United Kingdom Rugby School 1st XV player, Roly Ellis says.
Mr Ellis, the Tararua District mayor, welcomed the six Ross Shield teams, their management and supporters to town yesterday morning, after a colourful parade down High St.
Special guests All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder and Hurricanes teammate Jeffery Toomaga-Allen headed the parade.
The pride of those attending the tournament wasn't soured by a serious graffiti attack at Rugby Park, overnight on Monday, with Bevan Ellison, the chairman of the Ross Shield organising committee, commenting "it takes all types".
Other supporters weren't so gracious, calling for the culprits to be made to clean up using toothbrushes.
"After all the work people have put into for this tournament, we can do without this," Julie McDougall said.
Hurricanes Milner-Skudder and Toomaga-Allen had the Super Rugby trophy with them and Blair Furlong, president of the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union, said it was something for the Ross Shield players to aspire to.
Furlong played for Southern Hawke's Bay in the Ross Shield 60 years ago and wore his Ross Shield cap with pride.
"This is a fantastic tournament and this week you will make lifelong friends," he said.
Furlong also had a message for supporters.
"Can we have no ugly parents on the sideline?"