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    S15 teams sidestep ash cloud

    2011-06-16 12:17
    Sydney - The Crusaders will fly to Wellington on Friday aboard a 67-year-old Douglas DC3 to avoid a volcanic ash cloud which has grounded commercial flights and threatened to disrupt their Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes.

    Crusaders and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is patron of the trust that owns the aging aircraft which can fly at lower levels than modern jets, avoiding the ash from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano.

    Super rugby's governing body Sanzar took steps on Thursday to make new travel arrangements for teams due to travel through the area affected by the ash cloud.

    The Highlanders, who were due to fly from Dunedin to Auckland for Friday's match against the Blues, will now travel Thursday on a charter flight. Air New Zealand and other airlines within New Zealand grounded all flights on Thursday as the ash cloud spread across regular air routes.

    The Reds left Brisbane for Auckland on Thursday morning en route to Hamilton for Saturday's match against the Chiefs.

    The ash cloud has disrupted flights within Australia for much of the week, causing major delays between most capitals cities.

    Super Rugby teams in Australia, as well as teams in the other sports including the National Rugby League and the Australian rules Australian Football League, have been affected as flight schedules remain uncertain while airlines attempt to clear the backlog of delayed travelers.

    Most Australian flight services resumed on Thursday, but airports warned travellers to still be aware of possible disruptions.

    The Western Force are booked on a flight that is due to leave Perth for Melbourne on Thursday morning, a day ahead of their Super Rugby match against the Melbourne Rebels.

    "We are relieved at this stage to have resolved these issues," SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said.

    "Obviously until all teams are where they need to be for this weekend's games, we will continue to monitor the situation.

    "This has been the second major disruption to Super Rugby after the Christchurch quake earlier this year and it has again provided us with a big challenge as we were dealing with matters beyond our control." 
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