Another 'embarrassing' trophy story for New Zealand
SPOTLIGHT: Just a month after Crusaders tarnished the inaugural Super Rugby Aotearao trophy, Eden Park revealed one of its oldest secrets in regards to the North and South match.
An amateur sleuth has unlocked the mystery of what happened to the Loving Cup, the trophy awarded for the North v South game nearly a century ago.
Historian Ian St George has been searching for the Loving Cup – initially presented to the most famous of All Black touring sides – as detailed in a Stuff article.
And that has led to the trophy being found in the bowels of the North Stand by Eden Park facilities assistant Michael Brown.
“It was always there but I didn’t click how important it was until I saw the article,” Brown told Stuff.
“We knew it was an object of significance, but we’ve got the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby World Cups and the Ranfurly Shield, and it has just slipped through the cracks.
“Eden Park is a rabbit warren. I’ve been here for four years and yesterday I found a new room. There are probably others I still don’t know about.”
*READ: North v South match moved
The cup and base had become separated and did not look like a good match – one reason why it remained unrecognised. The lid is nowhere to be found.
The trophy was presented to the 1924 All Black ‘Invincibles’ by a group of New Zealanders living in the United Kingdom.
A former Eden Park worker named Jason Alkema had the mystery trophy restored before the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
“It was crap – it was all tarnished, it had a bunch of raffle tickets and bingo cards and plastic flowers in it,” he said.
“It’s an embarrassment for something like that to be hidden away. I was astounded to learn the significance of it. I’m glad it didn’t get stolen – it’s highly valuable not just for the silver but for what it represents.”
Eden Park believes the 60cm high trophy may have been in storage for about 37 years. Other memorabilia was uncovered including a George Nepia jersey.
The Loving Cup was awarded for the North v South games from 1925 to 1932, and Brown said he hoped it might be used for the revived fixture if it goes ahead this year.
“How serendipitous is that?,” he said.
St George is “delighted”.
“I half expected it might have been destroyed or melted down during the war, which they did with a lot of silver,” he said.
“It couldn’t have worked out better.”
Source: Rugbypass & Stuff