Up-to-date news articles, team sheets and results for Swindale Shield are available here.
The Swindale Shield, Wellington Premier rugby's first round title, is played over the first eleven weeks of the season from late March to Early June between the top twelve Premier clubs in a round-robin format to decide the winner. At the end the leading eight clubs make the Jubilee Cup round, while the bottom four placed teams are joined by the top four placed club teams from the Senior One Harper Lock Shield to contest the Hardham Cup.
Consequently, the Swindale Shield provides its share of drama and emotion at the bottom end of the points table as well as the top as teams strive to make the top eight for the second half of the season.
The 2009 Swindale Shield was tied for just the third time in its modern 41-year history and for the first time since 1983 when Northern United and Petone finished equal on 46 points at the end of the 11-week round-robin series.
Heading into the final day's play, Petone had a one-point lead to second placed Norths but they failed to earn a bonus point in their last game against Oriental-Rongotai, while at the same time Norths grabbed five points in beating Marist St. Pat's to leave the two clubs equal on points.
The end result of a pulsating final day's play was that Petone and Norths shared the Shield for the third time in the competition's history, after Petone previously shared it with Wellington in 1972 and MSP in 1983.
The shared title was Petone's 14th Swindale Shield win, after they originally won seven of the first eight Swindale Shields between 1969 and 1976 and last won it in 2004, while it was modern powerhouse club Norths' third win in four years and their fourth overall since their first win in 2003.
The other traditionally dominant Swindale Shield club has been MSP, who in 2008 ended Northern United's two-year reign as champions, recovering from a first round loss to win their last ten games straight and finish four points clear of Norths for their 12th first round title.
Norths were gunning for a rare three consecutive Swindale Shield wins in 2008 after backing up their first ever Wellington club rugby title win in 2003 by also winning in 2006 and 2007. If they had done so it would have been a rare feat. Only once since Petone's 1970s stronghold on the Swindale Shield, which was broken by Marist St. Pat's in 1977, has a club managed to win three title is a row, and that was MSP between 1994-1996.
Originally played for almost a century ago, the Swindale Shield has proved an elusive title to win since its resurrection 40 seasons ago in 1969. There have been eight different winners in the previous 12 seasons, going back to1997 when 2007 Jubilee Cup champions Hutt Old Boys Marist captured their first and only Swindale Shield, while the famous Poneke club has only ever won it once in 2002.
The Swindale Shield was first won by Oriental in 1910. The Shield was provided by Mr A.F. Swindale, who played for the Athletic senior team in 1897, Wellington's second oldest club. Mr Swindale asked the WRFU if he could present a shield for competition among senior teams, which was gratefully accepted. The Athletic Seniors won the Championship from 1911-15, the Shield then being won outright by them in 1913 and retired as the result of winning the Shield on three consecutive occasions. This was a common practice in the early days of Wellington Rugby. In fact, at one time the union's cupboard was bare of trophies because Poneke Club teams had won them all three times in succession at some stage or another.
It was then resurrected 56 years later and played for again in the 1969 season after being found at the back of an Athletic Park cupboard.
Petone won seven of the first eight Swindale Shields between 1969 and 1976 and were co-winners with Wellington the eighth time in 1972. Since 1977 a further nine clubs have captured it, making it such a hotly contested and sought after title.
Northern United have dominated this competition since 2003, having won the prestigious first round Shield six times in nine seasons including sharing it with Petone in 2009. Norths have gone back to back having lifted the Shield in 2010 and 2011.
A list of Swindale Shield winners from 1969 is available here.