You could not miss the colourful caps in Dannevirke this week.
When I was in town, there were troupes of boys and their supporters, wandering to and from Rugby Park.
Ross Shield fever had well and truly arrived. Opening day pulled an 800-strong crowd with another big showing expected today, the final of the annual primary schools rugby tournament.
For more than a century, Ross Shield rugby has been a highlight of the Hawke's Bay sporting calendar. For the boys - and some girls - their teachers, coaches and families, it is every bit as intense as the Rugby World Cup. If you are competing for the Ross Shield, you are top of your game.
Every year or two there is a bit of controversy around allegations of dieting to make the weight restriction. That hasn't happened this year (yet). Regardless, it has never stopped Ross Shield being one of the biggest shows in New Zealand for rugby at this level.
Dannevirke has been preparing for their crack at hosting the tournament for months and they have done it well. It was a huge event for the town and they were determined to make the most of it.
Sharon Wards, the chairman of the Ross Shield organising committee, said she had heard nothing but positive comments. "Lots of visitors have told me it's been one of the most fabulous Ross Shield events they've been to. The community has been very supportive and have gone out of their way to make our visitors feel at home."
That word community is at the heart of Ross Shield. Sure it is about competition (which is a good thing as we are of the view that it is proper to have a victor in sport at all levels) but it is also about the Bay community coming together for a magnificent sporting carnival.
It takes a huge community effort to run a successful Ross Shield. So congratulations Dannevirke, heartland Hawke's Bay and winning hosts.