Gaining their Ross Shield rugby team caps was a moment 22 young Dannevirke players would never forget, they were told during a capping ceremony on Wednesday night.
The Dannevirke Services and Citizens Club was packed with family and friends of the players who will be taking part in the Ross Shield tournament from October 1 to 5 in Wairoa.
MC Craig Boyden said the Ross Shield competition was considered to be one of the oldest rugby tournaments in the country, having been established in 1902, and is contested between Dannevirke, Central Hawke's Bay, Hastings West, Hastings East, Napier and Wairoa.
Coach Simon Prouting said it was a big night for the squad.
"This is something you will remember for the rest of your life. You will learn a lot about yourselves and each other. Players you meet from other teams will become mates. If you try really hard you'll make this a good experience."
Dannevirke JAB Rugby president Quinny Olsen, who is standing down from that position, said the tournament had been good for Dannevirke rugby.
"I wish all the boys well for the tournament. I hope I've made a difference and my contribution to JAB rugby has allowed the players to have new experiences."
The caps were presented by Hawke's Bay Magpie Gareth Evans who played for Hastings East in the Ross Shield tournament in 2004.
He outlined his playing career since then, playing for Napier Boys' High School while a student there, then heading to Otago University.
While there he said his rugby career took off and he played for the Highlanders. More recently Evans has played for the Hurricanes and said he was now enjoying playing for Hawke's Bay.
"Embrace the tournament, do the job and mix with the other players, off the field as well as on the field."
He said while rugby was important to them now they also needed to focus in the classroom in looking to the future.
Mayor Tracey Collis said a highlight of the evening for her was seeing the smiles on the faces of the boys as they were led into the room by piper Harvey Sattrup.
"You should be proud of yourselves as you have worked very hard to get where you are."
She told the boys she would be travelling to Wairoa to watch their first game but that they would travel to Wairoa with the support of the entire Tararua District behind them.
Leading the team will be captain George Prouting and vice-captains Dylan Taylor and Zach Filer.
Prouting received a certificate for gaining his third Ross Shield cap while Zach Filer, Dylan Taylor and Maia Beale all gained their second cap.
The Curran/Thomson Cup, awarded to the Best Senior Player, was then presented to Joshua Holland.
The Dannevirke Ross Shield squad is: Taylor Barnes, South, Matthew Barrow, Ruahine, Maia Beale, St Joseph's, Luca Bicknell, Weber, Jack Cammock, Ruahine, Anders Easton, Ruahine, Craig Elliffe, Weber, Zachery Filer, Ruahine, Ryder Fowler, South, Joshua Holland, Ruahine, Boston Kaa, South, Isiah Lawson, South, Jamie Monaghan, St Joseph's, Benjamin Olsen, St Joseph's, D'rhyas Paewai, South, Kyran Pinfold, Ruahine, Fergus Prouting, Weber, George Prouting, Weber, Jayden Stewart, South, Sam Stratford, Ruahine, Dylan Taylor, Pongaroa, Preston Teller, South.