What an epic Ranfurly Shield challenge that was last week. The Magpies storming home in the second half at Otago's much-vaunted home cauldron of Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
And with that Sunday 4.30pm kick-off
it was a glorious way to round off the weekend - getting home after a hard day's recreation, putting the feet up with a cold cuppa, watching a performance like that, and firing up the barbie on a beautiful evening to celebrate the
Log o' Wood coming home.
This afternoon the boys will have a tough game up at North Harbour, who last week came good to put away the previously on-fire Tasman side – a win would be great, but hey, who isn't already looking ahead to next weekend.
Oh yeah, next week it's back home for a "Furly Friday" night. Come on down the Northland Taniwha, for a Friday night party at McLean Park and the first defence of the log.
Northland won't be easy, they'll try and sneak in under the radar, but they have a proud history and some long memories of holding the Shield, and will come out fizzing for sure – so the Magpies will be hoping for their own hometown cauldron, and for the people of Hawke's Bay to get McLean Park pumping.
It's always nice to see Hawke's Bay as a region getting some national coverage. There was a good text to the editor of HB Today during the week, rightfully bemoaning the lack of recognition Hawke's Bay gets when the weather forecasters on TV give a wrap-up of the "main centres".
Sounds like a silly thing to worry about but the texter was right, and it does feed the mindset some have that we are just a small regional centre – when actually the twin cities combined are effectively the fifth-equal largest urban population in New Zealand, and well ahead of Dunedin, which is typically considered one of our largest cities.
So aside from anything else, having the Ranfurly Shield is good for putting Hawke's Bay's hand up and making a bit of noise nationally, and internationally.
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The current crop of Magpies are pretty exciting to watch and as the commentators pointed out last week, a good number are coming out of the champion Hastings Boys' High School team.
They certainly have the attacking threats and ability to capitalise on opportunities, especially from broken play. The game against Otago was a real clash of styles - Otago were reliant on their hard work and organisation - and their ability to win the breakdown was annoying with untold Magpie fans pulling their hair out every time the Otago players turned over Hawke's Bay ball at ruck time.
Unless you are a newborn or had been under a rock, most people are aware of the great Shield history Hawke's Bay has, and If this young team can keep improving, who knows what they are capable of.
If the team can get past Northland, then it sets up one of New Zealand's ultimate provincial derbies - Hawke's Bay vs Manawatu. Neighbouring teams steeped in history and rivalry, this would be a massive occasion for both provinces and would no doubt attract thousands of bucket heads and an army of green machine supporters. With another beautifully timed kick-off for the supporter - 4.30pm on a Saturday which is great for young and old, families and party-goers - it would be a rip-snorter if we can get there.
But wait, there's more. Unlike the team, we can look further ahead, and the defence after Manawatu is the big brother in the Hurricane family, the capital boys from Wellington. And in case you're wondering, that's a great timeslot too, 2pm on a Sunday – "oh stop it".
After we were starved of sport during lockdown, the timing couldn't be better to shake off the memories of restriction and get amongst it. Shield Country – yes people, lap it up, it doesn't come around often, and who knows when it will be back.
• Marcus Agnew: Community Development | International Rugby | Lecturer, researcher, initiator of Hawke's Bay's Institute of Sport & Health.