Crusaders coach's final words for Ackermann

    2017-08-07 07:05

    Lloyd Burnard - Johannesburg

    Johannesburg - Whichever way Saturday's Super Rugby final went, history was going to be made. 

    The Lions were eyeing their first title (we don't count 1993) while the Crusaders were looking to become the first team to win a final having traveled across the Indian ocean. 

    Unfortunately for the Lions and coach Johan Ackermann, there had to be a loser. 

    As the outgoing 47-year-old said after the match: "That's sport."

    Ackermann's 14-man Lions gave their all in the last 25 minutes, scoring two tries to threaten another miracle comeback, but in the end they ran out of time and were ousted 25-17. 

    It was Ackermann's final game in charge of the franchise before he leaves for Gloucester in the English Premiership, and it was an understandably emotional farewell for him. 

    The Lions, though, had been adamant all week that they would not be defined by one match. 

    While Crusaders coach Scott Robertson breakdanced in celebration, Ackermann was left to contemplate what might have been. 

    The rivalry may have been fierce and the competition desperate, but these sides have clearly earned each other's respect along the way. 

    "He can be really proud of what he’s achieved," Robertson said of Ackermann after the match.

    "I think the positive feeling that’s come out of the Lions is that you don’t get 63 000 people turning up if they don’t see that the team cares.

    "They truly care about each other. It was hugely respectful to stay afterwards and clap us off after the game.

    "He’s a wonderful coach and everyone knows he’s a good man. They play for him as a team.

    "We really feel for them. We were two desperate teams out there and unfortunately for them we’re the ones that came out on top."

    Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock was equally impressed with the Lions culture. 

    "Seeing them stay after the game and pick up water bottles and training gear tells you everything ... they're a humble side," he said.

    For Ackermann, it was a tough one to take, but he was full of praise for the Crusaders. 

    "They’ve played good rugby the whole year and they were consistent," he said.

    "They showed it last week (in the semi-final against the Chiefs) in how they defended and credit to them.

    "They did a lot of homework and they contested well … one can’t take anything away from them.

    "They’re a quality side and you could see how calm they were when we got closer and they calmed everything down. They’re deserving champions."

    Ackermann will leave for Gloucester on Wednesday.

    Follow Sport24 journalist @LloydBurnard on Twitter...

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk


    Saturday, 21 April 2018
    • Crusaders v Sunwolves, AMI Stadium 09:35
    • Reds v Chiefs, Suncorp Stadium 11:45
    • Bulls v Rebels, Loftus Versfeld 15:05
    • Sharks v Stormers, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 17:15
    Sunday, 22 April 2018
    • Brumbies v Jaguares, GIO Stadium 08:05
    Friday, 27 April 2018
    • Hurricanes v Sunwolves, Westpac Stadium 09:35
    • Stormers v Rebels, Cape Town 15:05


    20 April 2018
    14 April 2018
    13 April 2018
    07 April 2018
    06 April 2018
    01 April 2018
    31 March 2018
    30 March 2018
    24 March 2018
    23 March 2018
    18 March 2018
    17 March 2018
    16 March 2018
    10 March 2018
    09 March 2018
    03 March 2018
    02 March 2018
    24 February 2018
    23 February 2018
    17 February 2018


    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Who will finish top of the SA Conference in this year's Super Rugby tournament?

    Can you name the top Super Rugby tryscorers of all-time?

    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.