6 Jul 2019

What a Super Rugby title means to Canterbury

10:00 am on 6 July 2019

Sports Call - A Crusaders Super Rugby three-peat looms, but how much will a win mean to a region and city recovering from earthquakes and the Christchurch terror attacks.

Crusaders players celebrate winning the Super Rugby Title in 2018. Crusaders v Lions, Super Rugby Final. AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand. Saturday 4 August 2018 © Copyright photo : Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Crusaders celebrate winning the 2018 Super Rugby final. Photo: Photosport

The defending champions are heavy favourites to beat the Jaguares from Argentina in Christchurch tomorrow night. The hosts are stacked with All Blacks and are playing in their 14th final. They've won nine of those.

Locals and tourists, even the rugby illiterate, are just as confident about who will win.

Ben, 8, was in no doubt: "The Crusaders of course! Why? They're the best. Do the Jaguares have any chance? No!"

Nor was 55-year-old Garry, a long time supporter and local donut maker.

"Got to be the Crusaders. One eyed Cantabrian through and through hahaha."

Even Brad from the United States was on board: "I'm from America so you're asking the wrong guy. So who's going to win? The home team. And who's that? The Crusaders, they're well prepared, of course."

So if the Crusaders win as expected, what would it do for Canterbury and Christchurch?

Coach Scott Robertson believes it would provide some healing after a tough year in the Garden City.

"We've had a lot of adversity as a team and as a city. One thing we've done and what I'm really proud of as a group is that every time we've played we've showed how much we care about it and care about each other and care about out community.

"We've always gone back to our true values and what we stand for and how much respect we have in our community and how much work we do for them."

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

While sport pales in importance alongside the tragedies that have befallen Christchurch in recent times, a win tomorrow night would be a welcome boost to a city that values its rugby history.

Tom, a born and bred Christchurch lover, who's back in the city after a decade away said a Crusaders win would be great for the community.

"We love our rugby, so anything positive in that area is probably good for the city. And perhaps could help heal some of the pain of this year, in a way? Yeah, if a ruby win helps that, then all good."

Council worker and lawn connoisseur Dean was keeping the city looking fresh ahead of the big match.

"It's got to be a good thing, for the city, for sure. General moral and all that."

Meanwhile donut king Garry thinks Christchurch needs a boost.

"It would definitely give everybody a lift and a sense of pride and that is lacking in our city at the moment."

It's not just Crusaders fans that are bullish, the Chiefs and new All Blacks halfback, Brad Weber, reluctantly concedes it's the home team's title to lose.

"It's hard to go past the Crusaders isn't it? As much as it pains me to say it haha."

So can the Jaguares win? They've made history by reaching the final for the first time. There's no external pressures to win. They're already heroes, with a punchers chance to cover themselves in the ultimate glory.

Loose forward Juan Manual Leguizamon concedes the odds are stacked against them and said there's no magic formula to toppling the champions.

"The Crusaders are the best team in the tournament, the last champions. They are probably more complete as a team in almost every area of the game. This is the toughest game we'll have. But we are 15 against 15 on the ground and we are confident in our team."

That confidence is well placed, the Argentineans have won 11 of their last 12 games, and Crusaders coach Robertson is wary.

"The way they ran out of their changing room last week (in the semi-final win over the Brumbies), wow.

"I hope they bring that party and a few of their supporters with them because that will be great at our stadium. The passion and the emotion they bring, I think that's the danger you're talking about and that expression that they bring. They'll be emotional and they'll be up for it, so they'll be dangerous."

Dangerous enough to cause an upset? Unlikely, but regardless of who wins tomorrow night, history will be made.

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