Crusaders fail to fill coffers

2011-03-30 09:54

Christchurch - While the Crusaders' match at Twickenham last Sunday proved an on-field success, the New Zealand club says it was not the financial lifeline it hoped for in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.

The Super Rugby team remains homeless and cash-strapped after Christchurch's AMI Stadium was damaged in the February 22 tremor which claimed more than 160 lives, forcing it to host "home" matches in venues holding barely 10 000 fans.

The match at London's famous Twickenham, where the Crusaders emerged 44-28 victors in a pulsating clash with the Sharks, was supposed to shore up the club's books after the quake.

However, the 35 094 crowd at the first Super Rugby match ever played outside the southern hemisphere fell well short of the 55 000 anticipated, leaving the competition's most successful team in a financial hole.

"It has not been the blockbusting financial result we might have hoped for but we certainly covered our costs and made a little bit and we've been part of a unique occasion," chief executive Hamish Riach told the Christchurch Press.

Riach blamed the disappointing crowd on the lack of time available to promote the hurriedly organised game among Britain's large New Zealand and South African expatriate communities.

"People here (in London) have said they think we did pretty well to get in excess of 35 000 in 10 days in a busy and cluttered market," he said.

"We are kind of sitting here thinking it has been an adventure, worth it and special, without being the financial hit we had hoped."

Had the Twickenham match provided the expected windfall, the Crusaders would have played the majority of their home fixtures this season in the South Island towns of Nelson and Timaru.

There is now speculation the Crusaders may be forced to transfer at least one of those fixtures to Auckland's 50 000-capacity Eden Park, which is also likely to host "home" games if the Crusaders make the finals.

Canterbury Rugby Supporters Club president Dick Tayler said that moving home games out of the region, regarded as New Zealand's rugby heartland, was a blow to fans but they understood it was unavoidable in the circumstances.

He said the Crusaders, Super rugby's most successful team, had suffered alongside the people of Christchurch, with club director Philip McDonald killed in the quake and many players' homes damaged.

But he believed the rugby powerhouse was still capable of overcoming its financial woes and itinerant schedule to register a competition win that would mean more to fans than to any of the Crusaders' seven previous titles.

"They're like everyone here in Christchurch, there's been devastation in their personal lives, they've lost someone close," he said.

"Here in Christchurch families have been ripped apart, there's been damage to houses and workplaces, people losing jobs.

"Along with that you've got people trying to play their best rugby for their franchise. It's made things more difficult for them and their supporters but they can still do it."

Despite their off-field problems, the Crusaders still boast a star-studded line-up featuring 14 All Blacks, including flyhalf Dan Carter, rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams and national captain Richie McCaw.

They top the New Zealand Super Rugby conference and at least one British rugby commentator has said they would be more than a match for any northern hemisphere international team.

After the convincing win at Twickenham, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder sounded an ominous warning that Super Rugby's nomads could notch up yet another competition win to boost morale in their rugby-mad community.

"I know what we are capable of and we can be better than we were in the second half," he said.


  • RJ - 2011-03-30 10:02

    They going down to thr stormers at newlands with real running rugby... The only problem with thier performance over the weekend is that thr defence was poor at times the expansive game opened holes and they made the Sharks look good.

      Rob - 2011-03-30 11:01

      Bud, newsflash: the Crusaders will expose the Stormers and give them such a klap wherever you play them

      Hermanus Jacobus - 2011-03-30 12:33

      I think RJ, the Stormers must win it first, before the big mouths start celebrating. If they do win, they're in for a real chance this year. Just don't make the same mistake the press make by giving the super rugby title to the Stormers so early in the season. They still haven't won it once.

      Oukoos - 2011-03-30 14:14

      I think the Stormers must first loss before big mouths such as @ROB start celebrating a Stormers demise.

  • RJ - 2011-03-30 10:09

    I would really like to see the sharks put presure on peter grant because he tends to have to much space and time on the ball, he made Jdv look amazing thr was times when thr was presure on him and he's line kicking is certainly not great

      Oukoos - 2011-03-30 14:25

      @RJ, don’t that your disgust for the Stormers distort your common sense. We all know that Peter Grant is currently the top #10 in the country – actually the only one worth mentioning.

  • SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-30 10:23

    RJ: I think it's time for your meds...sedation. Newlands? WTF are you mumbling about? Please advise.

  • sessisie - 2011-03-30 10:32

    Please find John Smit an Irish brunette!

  • nodrog2 - 2011-03-30 10:37

    Cape Town Stadium is available and Apartheid left a legacy of the All Blacks having a large following in Cape Town!!

  • Ricky - 2011-03-30 10:44

    I am not surprised they did not fill the stadium due to greed! £30 ( about R400) a ticket was excessive and kept a lot of people away.

  • The Odd One Too - 2011-03-30 10:59

    Let them bleed. Who really cares? The S15 doesn't need their cheating ways anyhow.

      nixcroft - 2011-03-30 12:08

      and what cheating ways is that ? playing the best rugby the super series has seen in years. i support the lions but no one and i mean no one is going to stop the saders from winning the titel this years, the sharks showed they dont stand a chance, the stormers wont be able to and the bulls...forget it...and my own poor kittens will lucky to lose by less than 30 points, the cheetahs ? rather not say anything. Yes of course their expansive play opens up holes. but if you score three tries and concede one...who wouldnt take that ? Bulls last year ? everyone complained their defense their defense...but you score more you win, no matter what your defense.

  • molefeP - 2011-03-30 11:43

    The only way NZ and Aus teams can make money is to ride on SARU's back. When did you last see a full stadium for a S15 game in Aus or NZ? And those are small little stadiums to boot!

  • rugby_guru - 2011-03-30 12:20

    This is really sad, maybe an sms line could be opened for the Rugby Team and donations provided to them? Eg R5 an sms or something and money goes directly to the team, I know I'd sms like mad and know many other people who would too, sport24 can you arrange this?

  • G,DAYMATE - 2011-03-30 12:37

    Every body is on about the quake in NZ what about the floods in QL or doesnt this count?

  • Bootman - 2011-03-30 13:44

    The problem is that they spent too much money paying off the citing commissioner

  • StBad - 2011-03-30 16:19

    They should ask for financial aid from the NRU who are about to score bigtime from the RWC... or better yet; ask the IRB, they're flipping floating in money!

  • DAMAINMAN - 2011-03-31 07:48

    something has to be done about the crusaders heavyweight boxer sonny bill williams, his first point of contact whether hes tackling or being tackled is his shoulder 'punch' then he follows through with an elbow punch, he threw around 15 extremely dangerous punches in the twickenham game, just after he "punched" kankowski out he tried to line jannie dup up but missed and "punched" his own no 3 out ound 57 minutes into the game.this guy should be in a boxing ring.we had butch james who without ill intent had this awkward way of shoulder tackling,he was austrisiced by the nz refs(stevewalsh)was one of them and punished so much so that he eventually didnt know how to tackle anymore and would go into a tackle with straight arms and awkward, here we have a menace(dangerous neck breaking puncher-sbw).and nothing is said by the retrospect you can see in his smile and body language hes enjoying the win.the "PUNCHER" will have to mend his ways or go back to the responsible coach or any rugby official who cares for his players should allow his players to play against this boxer unless he's coached into being a rugby player, its as fair as playing cricket with a soccer ball- except with this guy someone might be maimed or murdered.

  • georgemtem - 2011-03-31 12:50

    it doesn't nid a rocket scientist to figure that: no inside centre or centres in SA is currently like SBW. Watch the space when jean de villiers and jaque fourie r outclassed ………

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