Victor Vito and Marist St Pats after winning the Swindale Shield in 2007

Rich history of first round competitions


The first round Swindale Shield and Harper Lock Shield competitions kick-off together in Upper Hutt this coming weekend, with Awakairangi Park (12 fixtures) and Maoribank Park (two) hosting all games in this year’s Gala Day opening.

Both the Swindale Shield and the Harper Lock Shield have a rich history. 


Swindale Shield

The Swindale Shield was first contested in 1910, after being donated to the WRFU by former Athletic player Mr A.F. Swindale for ‘competition among senior teams’ [the Championship silverware]. Oriental were the inaugural winners, and then Swindale’s former club, Athletic, won it for the next three years and it was promptly retired as was the then custom when a club won something three years in a row.

Although the competition continued, the Shield disappeared into the back of the Athletic club’s trophy cabinet until 1969 when a member of the club found the trophy and handed it back to the WRFU to be competed for once again. 

Petone won the trophy from 1969 through to 1976 (sharing it with Wellington in 1972), a winning stretch that has never since been replicated. 

Clubs have ‘done the double’ - winning the Swindale Shield and the Jubilee Cup in the same season - on 21 occasions. The Swindale Shield has been shared three times since 1969, between Wellington and Petone in 1972, Petone and Marist St Pat’s in 1983 and Petone and Northern United in 2009.


The last 10 Swindale Shield winners have been:

2008 Marist St Pat’s
2009 Petone and Northern United shared
2010 Northern United
2011 Northern United
2012 Hutt Old Boys Marist
2013 Tawa
2014: Marist St Pat’s
2015: Hutt Old Boys Marist
2016: Old Boys University
2017: Old Boys University

The Swindale Shield is a round-robin competition, played over 13 rounds, including a midweek set of matches on Anzac Day. 


Last year Old Boys University 11 games and lost two in defending the first round title, scoring 496 points and conceding 236. They scored 70 tries along the way. The Goats then went on to win the Jubilee Cup for the second time in three years. Oriental-Rongotai finished second for the second year on the trot and Hutt Old Boys Marist, Northern United and Wainuiomata finished in a tie for third. 

With the grounds often remaining hard and fast and the weather agreeable throughout much of the first round, scoring often runs hot. 

Overall, a cumulative total of 4,939 points (4,809 last year) were scored in the 91 games of last year's Swindale Shield, at an average of 54.2 points per game (53.7 in 2016).

Ories' Adam Deck headed off OBU's Dale Sabbagh as top first round points-scorer in 2017 with 143 to 138. Upper Hutt's Joyner Key was third while Tawa's James So'oialo and HOBM's Sheridan Rangihuna also topped 100.

Poneke's Michael Sage topped the tryscoring with 12, Petone’s Lester Maulolo scored 11 tries, while MSP's Mike Buckley finished with 10. The top-scoring forward was Upper Hutt's Mitchell Markov with 8. 


Harper Lock Shield 

The Harper Lock Shield was once a coveted prize played for in a well-organised competition between New Zealand servicemen in world war two. In 1943 in Maadi, Egypt the 22nd Battalion (which included Wellingtonian’s Mick Kenny and Paul Donoghue) defeated the Maadi competition winners, the Maori Training Unit, to win the Harper Lock Shield.  

Mr Harper, a Pakeha brigadier stationed in the Egyptian desert, combined with Mr Lock, a Maori brigadier stationed at the same post, to create the Harper Lock shield in 1943. The shield was contested in games between a Pakeha team and a Maori team during the war and was continued when the soldiers returned after the war. 

In 1951 the WRFU, with Mick Kenny as the major driving force, decided to take over the trophy and make it part of their regular competition.  Since that date it has been continuously played for in the Senior One-Premier Reserve competition.

Did you know? In winning the Swindale Shield – Harper Lock Shield double last season, Old Boys University became the first club since Norths in 2010 to win the first round Premier and Premier Reserve competitions. This is just the seventh time this has been achieved (since 1969) and the fourth time as standalone winners, as is highlighted below:

1983: Petone/MSP (Swindale Shield) and Petone (Harper Lock Shield)
1984: Wellington (Swindale) and Petone/Pare-Plim/Wellington (Harper Lock)
1986: Petone (Swindale) and Petone/Titahi Bay (Harper Lock)
1995: MSP (Swindale) and MSP (Harper Lock)
1999: MSP (Swindale) and MSP (Harper Lock)
2010: Northern United (Swindale) and Northern United (Harper Lock)
2017: Old Boys University (Swindale) and Old Boys University (Harper Lock)


The last five Harper Lock Shield winners have been: 

2013: Johnsonville 
2014: Avalon
2015: Tawa
2016: Marist St Pat’s
2017: Old Boys University 


Games on 17 March 

All games at Awakairangi Park except for Avalon v Wainuiomata at Maoribank Park

Harper Lock Shield matches at 1.00pm, Swindale Shield matches at 2.45pm

  • Tawa v Marist St Pat’s
  • Johnsonville v Wellington
  • Northern United v Petone
  • Hutt Old Boys Marist v Upper Hutt Rams
  • Paremata-Plimmerton v Oriental-Rongotai
  • Poneke v Old Boys University
  • Avalon v Wainuiomata