Crikey those folk in "Ferdinand the Bull" rugby country are taking the Magpies Ranfurly Shield Challenge on Friday night seriously.
Taranaki Rugby Football Union's Public Relations and Marketing Manager Nikita Hall confirmed yesterday her union is running a $12.50 ticket promotion in an attempt to boost support for the Ranfurly Shield holders in the Yarrow Stadium encounter.
"We're expecting a tough challenge from the Magpies and we want to make sure as many of our supporters as possible can attend the game," Hall said.
"For this match only fans can purchase tickets for Block G in our TSB Bank Stand for $12.50. They can be booked through Ticket Direct for a fee of $2.50 which means fans are getting an adult stand ticket for $15."
When it was pointed out to Hall that price could prove tempting for Magpies supporters he replied:
"We don't mind ... the more fans here the better. We had 17,000 spectators here last year for the Magpies challenge and we're hoping to reach the 15,000 mark on Friday night."
Fans have until the end of business tomorrow to book the cheap tickets. In addition to the challenge which is also a fourth round ITM Cup Premiership encounter there will be two curtain-raiser matches - the Taranaki under-14s (who beat their Hawke's Bay counterparts last weekend) up against Wairarapa Bush and a Rippa Rugby final.
Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union's Commercial Manager Jay Campbell is predicting at least 800 Magpies fans will be at Yarrow Stadium on Friday night. He agreed the $12.50 promotion could prove to be a huge incentive for supporters to make the trip west.
"Our attempts to organise supporters' trips by plane and by bus didn't come off because they had to be booked in advance. However, from what I hear now fans know the challenge is on there will be plenty of packed minivans and cars travelling west on Friday."
Magpies coach Craig Philpott will announce his team for the challenge to his squad tonight and publicly in the morning. The Magpies Captain's Run will be staged in Napier tomorrow morning before the Magpies fly to Auckland to board a connecting flight to New Plymouth.
The Magpies last held the Ranfurly Shield in 1969.
And should they return home with the shield their first challenge will be against Bay of Plenty at McLean Park on September 21.