The Plunket Shield first-class championship is one of New Zealand's oldest and most demanding sporting competitions, comprising hard-fought, four-day cricket played at first-class venues right across New Zealand.
This is the red-ball arena, the place where future Test BLACKCAPS are discovered, yet entry is always completely free to the public.
The shield itself was donated by Lord William Lee Plunket, New Zealand's twelfth Governor, in 1907 and to this day it is considered the most beautiful sporting prize in New Zealand with incredibly detailed silversmithery.
Canterbury was the first association to hold the shield, but promptly lost it to Auckland in the very first match. In those early days, the Shield was contested by challenge matches, but today teams compete in a scheduled competition across the season, the champion being the team with the most points at the end of the final round.
Currently the six Domestic men's teams compete over eight rounds, the Plunket Shield having been reduced from a double round robin (10 rounds) ahead of the 2018/19 season.
The Central Stags headed into the 2019/20 season hunting for a rare three-peat after having won the Plunket Shield championship back to back in 2017/18 and 2018/19. However, they would finish runner-up in 2019/20 after the last two rounds of the season were cancelled by NZC in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Wellington Firebirds had meanwhile built a 26-point lead on the table after six rounds, and were declared the 2019/20 champions. It was the Firebirds' first Plunket Shield championship title since 2004.
Other recent champions include the Auckland Aces who were runaway champions in 2015/16 with a round to spare; and Canterbury who won the Plunket Shield for the third time in four years in a gripping 2016/17 season that went right down to the wire.
The 2020/21 Plunket Shield begins at Labour weekend (19 October) 2020 with the first half before Christmas. After the white-ball season, the final four rounds take place from March 2021 into the first week of April. BLACKCAPS are available to play for their Domestic side for the first four rounds this season so expect hot competition.
2019/20 Wellington Firebirds
2018/19 Central Stags
2017/18 Central Stags
2015/16 Auckland Aces
2012/13 Central Stags
2011/12 Northern Districts
2009/10 Northern Districts
2008/09 Auckland Aces