A Hawke’s Bay player has been charged by police as the fallout continues from the team’s successful Ranfurly Shield challenge against Wellington on Saturday.
After the Magpies’ celebrations left the Log o’ Wood destroyed, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) was then investigating an image shared online of white powder on the broken shield.
The image was emailed to NZME, NZR and the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union. In the image, white powder is lined up on a broken half of the famous shield with the comment ‘F*** we broke the ranfurly’.
Now police have confirmed that a Hawke’s Bay player has been charged with drink-driving following an incident early on Sunday morning.
“A [man in his 20s] has been summoned to appear in court following a crash in Awatoto, Napier,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.
“Police were advised at 3.35am that a car had collided with a fence on Hunter Drive. There were no reports of injuries.
“The driver has been summoned to appear in court for driving with excess breath alcohol. Police are considering other driving charges in relation to this event.”
Earlier, NZR community rugby general manager Steve Lancaster said in a statement it had launched an investigation to find out what had happened.
“New Zealand Rugby is aware of significant damage to the Ranfurly Shield and we are deeply disappointed,” the statement said. “We are also aware of images circulating on social media and, as a result, NZR has launched an investigation to understand what has occurred.
“The Shield has undergone a tremendous amount of restoration work over the past 12 months to ensure it remains a focal point and source of pride for the rugby community.
“NZR will now take possession of the Shield, begin the process of repair and reassess the protocols in place to look after it. Our intention is that the Ranfurly Shield remains a part of the community, is enjoyed by those who hold it and cared for as a taonga of our game.”
Yesterday, the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union voiced its devastation as celebrations after winning the Ranfurly Shield left the Log o’ Wood destroyed.
The Magpies took the Shield from the Wellington Lions on Saturday afternoon, and yesterday, footage surfaced of two-test All Blacks halfback Folau Fakatava holding their prize - albeit in two separate pieces.
In a statement, Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union chief executive Jay Campbell said while Fakatava was in the video, he was not responsible for the damage, which was said to be caused by the shield being dropped on to concrete.
“Hawke’s Bay Rugby is aware of social media posts circulating showing a damaged Ranfurly Shield. Hawke’s Bay has a rich and proud history with the Log of Wood, and we are incredibly proud of our performance yesterday and to once again be shield holders. Having taken some time to understand from those present what has happened, this was a genuine accident which occurred this morning when a player has unfortunately dropped the Shield on to a concrete kitchen floor,” the statement said.
“Hawke’s Bay Rugby and our players understand the significance of this special taonga and its unique place within New Zealand rugby, including our own rich history. Everyone involved is incredibly upset and devastated by what has happened, especially as it was a genuine accident.”
Campbell also voiced his disappointment that a video of the damage made its way onto social media.
“We are very disappointed that a video has been shared on social media and can confirm that the individual in the video is not responsible for the damage. Posting on social media is not appropriate given the seriousness of this situation and we will be speaking with our team. Hawke’s Bay Rugby takes full responsibility for the damage and will immediately begin the process of repair.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Drug Free Sport New Zealand said it tested players at the NPC level, and those tests included identifying “the presence of recreational drugs like cocaine.”
“Drug testing can take place at any time, not just after games.”
The Magpies beat Wellington 20-18 to regain the shield after losing it to the Lions in September last year. Wellington ended a long tenure, with the Magpies defending the shield 14 times before the loss. It was a similar situation with the Magpies taking it back, ending Wellington’s streak of successful defences at seven in what was the Lions’ final challenge of the season.
It comes just months after New Zealand Rugby completed a restoration project for the Log o’ Wood which saw the original shield blessed and decommissioned by New Zealand Rugby Māori cultural adviser Luke Crawford to recognise its status as a taonga in the sport after a storied 118-year history, and a new one put into circulation.
It isn’t the first time a trophy has been damaged by a New Zealand rugby side, however, after the Crusaders were forced to apologise in 2020 for damaging the custom-made Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy during celebrations.
Chief executive Colin Mansbridge confirmed at the time that Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa, a unique trophy made in Ōtaki which was presented to the team after they won the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, was dropped after their final match.
Images of the damaged trophy showed chunks of wood missing from several areas of the base.
Another photo showed the pounamu missing.
The trophy represented the coming together of the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders in the wake of the disruption and turmoil caused by Covid-19.