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No Fijian Trip For Crusaders

The Crusaders have abandoned plans to play a Super Rugby match in Fiji and will instead stage the “home” fixture in Nelson. With Christchurch’s AMI Stadium unavailable because of a
29 Jan 2015 10:31
No Fijian Trip For Crusaders

The Crusaders have abandoned plans to play a Super Rugby match in Fiji and will instead stage the “home” fixture in Nelson.

With Christchurch’s AMI Stadium unavailable because of a clash with the Fifa Under-20 World Cup tournament, the Crusaders administrators investigated whether the May 29 fixture against the Hurricanes could be played at Suva’s ANZ Stadium.

Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said Nelson had always been one of the options under consideration and was confirmed at a board meeting yesterday.

“We are all pleased that after a long and thorough process, including discussions with our players and coaches, and representatives of the relevant venues, a decision has now been reached and we are excited to be taking this game to Nelson,” Riach said.

“We have played in Nelson a number of times before and our supporters from the uppermost part of the Crusaders catchment area are always most welcoming. We know it will be a fantastic occasion and it is great to be able to now get on with preparing for that match and making it something special for our fans.

“As has been previously reported, Suva was another venue we considered for this game. While there were a number of compelling aspects to that option, on balance and taking into account a wide range of pros and cons for each venue, we are really happy to confirm that the game will be played at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.”

The decision to scrap the Fiji trip comes in the wake of Crusaders first five-eighth Dan Carter stating he wanted the game played at Nelson’s Trafalgar Park.

All Blacks star Carter, who has made 128 appearances for the Crusaders since 2003, urged the administrators to cancel the Fiji game because he didn’t want to be denied the opportunity to play in front of a home crowd.

“A lot of it is to do with playing in front of our fans,” Carter said.

“We don’t have any games in other parts of the franchise this year and .. the travel [overseas] does take it out of you.”

While the Crusaders and Hurricanes franchises would have benefited financially from playing the game in Suva – it is understood an underwriter had been secured – players from both teams made it clear they wanted to play in New Zealand.

Earlier New Zealand Rugby Players Association boss Rob Nichol also noted the players were concerned about having to travel to Fiji so late in the regular season.

Many of the All Blacks, from both teams, would have also been wary about increasing their travel when they could be spending up to two months in Britain during the World Cup later in the year.

The round 16 fixture falls at an awkward time for the Crusaders, who were worried about an already busy travel schedule so close to the playoffs. They feared it could jeopardise their title hopes.

The Crusaders meet the Waratahs in Sydney in round 15 and play the Blues in Auckland and the Brumbies in Canberra after the game against the Hurricanes.

“Playing in Fiji does provide its challenges, especially at such a critical stage of the season,” Carter added. “It is just that at that stage of the season when it is a pretty important game we want to win.”

 

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