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.
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 Major Association to hold the shield, but promptly lost it to Auckland in the very first match. Briefly in those early days, the Shield was contested on a challenge basis, 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 ahead of the 2018/19 season.
The 2021/22 Plunket Shield begins at Labour Weekend (23 October) with a staggered start due to preseason Alert Level lockdowns in Auckland impacting two of the six sides. Scheduled rounds that were not able to be played before Christmas were to be played at the end of the scheduled summer.
The nursery of Test cricket, BLACKCAPS play Plunket Shield cricket for their Domestic side when available.
• Canterbury enters the 2021/22 summer as the defending first-class champion after having won an unprecedented four out of the five NZC Domestic titles across men's and women's cricket last summer.
• The Central Stags headed into the 2019/20 season hunting for a rare three-peat, having won the Plunket Shield championship back-to-back in 2017/18 and 2018/19. However, they would finish runners-up in 2019/20 in which the last two rounds of the season were cancelled by NZC in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wellington Firebirds held a 26-point lead on the table after six rounds, and were declared the champions. It was the Firebirds' first Plunket Shield championship title since 2004.
• The Auckland Aces were runaway champions in 2015/16 with a round to spare; while Canterbury won the Plunket Shield for the third time in four years in a gripping 2016/17 season that went right down to the wire!
Match Official Appointments
2021/22 Auckland Aces
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