While the word "fever" may not quite fit the bill there is great anticipation as Hawke's Bay takes aim at Waikato for the legendary Ranfurly Shield tomorrow evening.

The Log o' Wood.

The greatest prize in New Zealand provincial rugby which has been doing the rounds since 1904 and which is played for under a challenge system rather than a championship points system.

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Like the FA Cup in England. Although the FA Cup is a knockout situation, minor teams which embark on that journey are in with a shot.

If they keep on winning.

The Ranfurly Shield is a true treasure of Kiwi rugby, and the Magpies have had their fine share of it, so we will have a storage cupboard ready and waiting should the lads do the job.

Once upon a time that "storage cupboard" was often under mum and dad's bed, as during that great shield reign between September 1966 and September 1969 my dad was effectively the custodian of the shield in his role with the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union.

He'd put it in the back of the Morris Minor after clearing up the aftermatch function litter and bring it home.

And I'd charge schoolmates 10c if they wanted to have their photo taken with it, or even just pick it up.

They were great years, and the crowds were massive, and those 21 defences were sterling affairs — I saw them all.

I remember when Canterbury took it away in late September of '69, dad simply arrived home and said "well we've had our time".

Like all the Magpie army, he took it on the chin with a sort of "we'll get it back again one day" philosophy.

Which we did twice until three seasons ago when of all sides, Waikato took it from us after 11 defences.

The shield story is a fine one — the only yawns emerged between 1985 and 1993 when Auckland effectively cemented it way through 61 defences.

I like it when it moves around and I like it more when it moves out of the main centres.

So here we go again.

The shield is on the line and we now find ourselves on one side of that line — thanks to the foibles of the playing schedules and results.

We would not have planned for this to happen but it has.

Wouldn't it be nice to have to then plan a welcoming soiree?

And hey, if the cupboard's not ready I'll keep it under the bed.

Ten cents a photo.