The head of the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union said there are “a lot of bridges to mend” as the fallout continues from celebrations after the Magpies’ Ranfurly Shield win over Wellington at the weekend.
The Ranfurly Shield – a taonga of regional rugby – was accidentally snapped in half after it was dropped on a concrete floor. The incident came to light after a video of the broken Log o’ Wood was posted to social media.
A further image emerged showing an unidentified white powder on the shield, while it further emerged yesterday afternoon a 24-year-old player had been charged with drink-driving after a car allegedly collided with a fence in Napier on Sunday morning.
The newly restored Ranfurly Shield had just been unveiled in August, replacing the old one after decades of wear and tear. It was designed to be thicker and heavier than its predecessor.
Jay Campbell told Breakfast this morning the union “understand the backlash”, calling the incident “hugely” embarrassing and “devastating”.
“This is a very, very proud union that’s got a proud history with the shield over many years. This community, we should be celebrating what a magnificent Magpies victory it was on the weekend – we should be embracing it with our community. Instead, we’re having to do damage limitation and apologising which we need to do because it’s just not good enough,” he said.
Campbell said he had since spoken to “a number” of the players who are “genuinely gutted” over the incident and the backlash which followed.
He reiterated that the shield breaking was “a genuine accident”, but said the “alleged other little bits and pieces that have gone on” was “just gutting”.
“It’s so disrespectful. We haven’t shown the respect that the shield deserves and it’s tough to take.”
New Zealand Rugby has since launched an investigation, with support from the union, into the breaking of the shield, as well as speculation around an unidentified white powder and utensil seen on social media.
“That’ll be ongoing and then the findings of that will then have repercussions,” Campbell said.
A union staffer drove the shield down to NZR in Wellington yesterday morning for repairs, which will be paid in full by the union as it’s “the least we can do”, he said.
“It’s probably the disrespect of the shield that hurts the most for me and that’s something that all of us involved – the union – I feel sorry for my staff, my coaching staff – ‘cause the shield means so much to us here as well.”
Campbell said any of the team’s goodwill from the Cyclone Gabrielle appeal and fundraising efforts have been lost.
“That’s out the window now so we’ve got to rebuild that trust and start again.
“We’ve got a lot of bridges to mend and there are a lot of people that have been hurt and I understand the backlash 100%.”
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