The history of the Ranfurly Shield is like no other sporting competition in New Zealand.

No other trophy captivates the rugby nation or transforms whole communities quite like the famous Log o' Wood.

Since the first defence by Auckland in 1904, there has been plenty of heartache, controversy, upsets and near misses - and sadly many of them involve Bay of Plenty.

Their second challenge for the shield was in 1922, ironically the first game played between Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay. It was the first defence for the Magpies of what was to be a famous shield era of 24 defences until 1927.

Advertisement

But Bay of Plenty should have won after they scored a try under the posts on fulltime to trail 17-16. Surely the kick would go over and Bay of Plenty would win the shield? No, it missed and so began the curse of the shield for 82 years until that magical day on August 15, 2004, at Eden Park.

The 33-28 win over Auckland led to unprecedented scenes throughout the Bay of Plenty region as the shield went on tour. How the players managed to focus enough to beat Waikato in the first defence is a mystery. But two weeks later the party was over, as Canterbury came to town and stole the shield away 33-26 in a thriller.

The other two most poignant shield challenges are the Peter Kennedy no-try finish against Canterbury at Lancaster Park in 1984, and the scarcely believable fiasco against Auckland at Eden Park in 1996.

Kennedy played 101 games for the Bay as a powerhouse prop but his name will always be linked with what happened in the final play against Canterbury. Trailing 18-13, with a converted try needed, Bay of Plenty pounded the Canterbury line.

Kennedy made one final desperate lunge over the try line to score but the local referee disallowed it, before the crowd surged on to the park.

"I bloody well know I stretched out and got the ball down on the try line but (Bruce) Deans (and lock Albert Anderson) dived in and pushed the ball back," Kennedy said. "With the crowd virtually on the sideline, by the time the ref got around he didn't want to see it."

Worse was to come at Eden Park in 1996. The Steamers were well ahead 29-11 with just eight minutes remaining but somehow managed to lose 30-29 deep into injury time to more disputable tries awarded. The irony was Bay of Plenty were in the old second division in those days, so had they won the shield might still be in the Heartland Championship today, with the big boys unable to get their hands on it.