I’ve finally got to touch the Ranfurly Shield! It’s been a dream of mine for many years – to go to a Shield game at McLean Park.

I’ve heard so many stories about the 1960s Shield era in Hawke’s Bay and how it brought prosperity. Legends were born during that era – the likes of Kel Tremain, Blair Furlong and Ian McRae.

I have seen old photographs of the park at full capacity, something that has rarely occurred since. I’ve heard about how everyone was in a great mood and money was flowing.

The Shield is now locked away for summer. It’s ours and the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union has done a fantastic job of making it accessible to fans throughout the Bay.

I heard of one guy that called the union’s office and asked for it to be dropped off at his house and that he wanted to sleep with it for the night. His wish didn’t come true, but he, like many, have been able to hold aloft the Shield.

The Ranfurly Shield is like a magic rug. It sweeps up everyone and sprinkles good fortune on all those that touch it.

Already the rugby union says it will record a better than budgeted financial result and I’m sure there’s many businesses that have benefited, especially the hospitality industry.

I hope that it’s a catalyst for a positive 2015 and that we take advantage of its magic for as long as we can. It’s a given that at some stage the Shield will move; but it’s the opportunity in the “now” that we need to take advantage of.

Already many column centimetres of media exposure have been given to the team’s exploits.

Exactly what the Bay needs!

The Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union now has a platform to develop a legacy, to build a stronger team and to promote the game of rugby.

It’s in a fantastic position to get more youngsters into the game. Little Jimmy will be wanting to be the next Ihaia West or Richard Buckman.

So how else can we all benefit from the Shield? If we’re all feeling good, then perhaps we’re much more optimistic about everything else that matters.

I’m not sure if it’s got as much pulling power as it did in the 60s, but I’m only saying that because I wasn’t alive to see.

Today I think many people are walking with more of a swagger than without the Shield, and perhaps this will have many spinoffs.

So what could they be?

Tourism

Increased media exposure will draw people to Hawke’s Bay.

Greater awareness of Hawke’s Bay

People like success and if we’re seen to be successful, others will want to do business with us.

Increased participation numbers in sport

Rugby is obviously set to benefit, but active recreation should enjoy a lift too.

Stronger rugby clubs

The Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union will now be in a position to put more money back into grassroots development of the game.

Regional pride

There’s already an uplift in pride.

Economic Vitality

More money should be flowing throughout the region.

So as we relax on the beach over the summer, let’s hope that our Magpies are doing the hard yards in pre-season for our benefit!

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