4 Oct 2023

Watch: Hawke's Bay Rugby on broken Ranfurly Shield

1:03 pm on 4 October 2023

All Blacks and Hawke's Bay halfback Brad Weber says they need to win back the respect of the rugby community after breaking the Ranfurly Shield.

Hawke's Bay won the Shield off Wellington at the weekend but during the celebrations the newly refurbished Shield was dropped and it broke in half.

Social media images have also shown the broken trophy with white powder and a rolled up bank note on it - suggesting drug use. Weber refused to speculate what the white powder on the Shield was.

New Zealand Rugby has launched an investigation into the matter.

Magpies vice captain Brad Weber and head coach Brock James spoke to media after a training session on Wednesday.

Magpies player Brad Weber with head coach Brock James.

Magpies player Brad Weber with head coach Brock James. Photo: RNZ / Kate Green

Weber described the context the accident happened in: "During the night, Saturday night it was great - we'd just brought the shield back... really joyous and stoked to bring it back to the community.

"We'd just had a big bus ride back to Napier, and we had a night out as we do to celebrate what was a really good performance... it was a good night, and then obviously at some point the shield was dropped and it broke."

The shield was inside when it broke, but Weber said he was not there by the time it happened.

"But the boys that were there are all really consistent, and... I really trust what they're saying."

Weber said he was not willing to speculate on the white powder later seen in pictures of the broken shield, or who was at the celebration at the time the shield was dropped.

"There's a New Zealand Rugby investigation, we're going to be fully cooperative with that."

Asked if the team would undergo drug testing, Weber said if NZ Rugby asked for that as part of the investigation they would.

Asked about a drink drive charge now facing one of the team's players, after another incident early on Sunday morning, Magpies head coach Brock James said that was matter for the police: "We can't comment on that."

Asked whether there was a wider substance issue in New Zealand rugby, Weber said they were not going to comment.

James said whether any disciplinary action would be handed out, would have to wait until the findings of the NZ Rugby investigation were known.

"It's in the hands of the investigation. The instructions we've had is to get ready for a game.

"We understand the importance of the shield, we're very disappointed in the fact that we've ended up breaking the shield - for the effort we put in to get it ...Wellington went 19 games undefeated until we got the shield off them. I'd like to have thought that that accident wouldn't have happened, but like I say, it was an accident.

"We've had to move on quite quickly, we still have a game, at least one to go - we're planning on three... we really want to get another three weeks of rugby in.

"We really want to win the respect back of people that we've hurt through breaking this shield and the accident, it's nice to have training and the game as a bit of distraction from this."

Weber said the history of the Ranfurly Shield and its accessibility to fans as it is moved about the country are worth preserving, and he hopes it will remain that way.

"This is our fourth tenure in the last decade ... we've respected it each time we've had it. We know the respect it holds in the rugby community... and in the Hawke's Bay.

"I think that's a special part of the Ranfurly Shield, is that so many people in the community get to see it and there's so many stories around about it.

"Obviously this place [Hawke's Bay] has gone through some seriously tough times in the last year, and ideally, hopefully, once it gets repaired we can get it out to the community.

"We as a playing group are gutted, we're hurting. That accident's happened and it's broken, and particularly for the community - we want to get it out there and let them enjoy it."

What happened so far?

Images of two pieces of the broken shield and a Magpies player began circulating on Sunday morning. That prompted the club to release an initial statement saying the shield was broken when it was dropped on concrete by a player, in a genuine accident.

Jonah Lowe of Hawke's Bay holds the Ranfurly Shield.

The Ranfurly Shield was broken in two after being won by the Hawke's Bay Magpies in the weekend. Photo: Photosport/ Elias Rodriguez

However more photos later emerged, of white powder on the shield, some divided into lines.

New Zealand Rugby said it was launching an investigation and would take possession of the shield to start repairs.

The Magpies won the shield on Saturday from the Wellington Lions in a 20-18 win at Wellington's Sky Stadium.

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