The Holley Shield, rediscovered and restored, has resumed its high place in the rugby history of St Patrick’s College, Wellington, St Bede’s, Christchurch, and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.

St Bede’s Daniel McCormack (left) and St Patrick’s Paul Bickle hold the restored Holley Shield.
St Bede’s Daniel McCormack (left) and St Patrick’s Paul Bickle hold the restored Holley Shield.

The shield was named after the former provincial of the Marist Order, Fr Dean Holley, SM, and was first competed for in 1921 between the first XVs of St Patrick’s College, Wellington and St
Bede’s College.
In 1931, the annual competition between the two colleges became a triangular tournament, with the addition of St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.
In 1943, “the contest for the Holley Shield was with regret abandoned under the stress of [wartime] circumstances” and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream (the holders as of that date), retained the shield. The triangular tournament then fell into abeyance.
The shield then mysteriously disappeared.
Fifty years later, in the early 1990s, Fr Mark Walls, SM, came across it at St Bede’s College in a dilapidated state and suggested that it should be restored.
However there was little interest then in doing so.
In 2013, talk emerged of reinstituting the annual rugby contest between the three schools and St Bede’s deputy rector, Gerry Davidson, initiated the project to restore the shield.
Made of mahogany and embossed in sterling silver, the wood was badly damaged, with many silver shields missing, as well as one of the three silver clover leafs.
Chris England, a member of the St Bede’s Rugby Committee, took charge of restoration and spent hours restoring the damaged mahogany to its former glory.
St Bede’s also engaged a silversmith to replace the missing silver work. The shield has since been restored to its former glory for the benefit of future generations of Marist young men who represent their schools at first fifteen rugby.
From now on, the shield will be won and lost on a challenge basis, whenever the holder plays either of the other two schools.
The restoration work was financially supported by the St Patrick’s College Old Boys’ Association.
—Source: Gordon Noble-Campbell, St Patrick’s College Rugby Football Club.

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