Before 2000 there were no quality competitions in England for 2nd XV teams. That was Alan Barnett’s opinion anyway, so he started his own league for teams like London Kiwis, Rosslyn Park, Glamorgan Wanderers and London Welsh who were eager to be founder member clubs. Sadly, London Kiwis is no more – but their spirit lives on !!
The fisrt phase of the development of the Shield was taken to its next stage when Alan joined with David Booth of Rosslyn Park to establish the competition in the South East and a little later the full expansion was complete when Steve Appleby of Basingstoke added his skills and talents. This is the triumvirate that calls itself the Shield Committee.
Barnett, Appleby and Booth knew that the clubs who had previously relied on a variety of fixture committees to find games would quickly pick up a simply structured competition where the players come first ! This is the true spirit of rugby !!
Other merit tables had struggled to provide their member clubs with season-long challenging matches and the Shield worked hard to ensure quality for the Second XV’s and Development squads who are a vital part of the overall structure of the modern rugby club. Other clubs soon heard about the competition and its reputation spread.
At the beginning the first major sponsor was Canterbury of New Zealand who benefitted from the increased sales and market exposure even though the Shield was still in its infancy.
Times change and unfortunately in 2009 Canterbury had to step down as sponsors , but immediately the , then , international retailer RugbyTech stepped in with its support and enthusiasm. Sadly they also succumbed and the Shield lost a good friend in Gordon Cameron. Again time moved on and we were pleased to welcome Zoo Sports, a new player in the market, who are now in their second season as major sponsor of the Shield (thanks to David Peyton!).
The Shield is, as ever, 100% about offering good, competitive matches covering full seasons with consideration to International matches, geographical situations of the clubs and, in particular, with player development within their clubs firmly in mind. The RFU now recognize the meaningfulness of the competition and supports and encourages the Shield to expand and develop.
Someone who knows a good thing when he sees it is Sean Fitzpatrick, that in-your-face front rower, former All Black captain , who is patron of The Shield. He added “The best way to 1st XV rugby is to play your heart out for the 2nd team in worthy competition. The Shield provides the perfect stage for aspiring talent to show just what they are made of!”.