5 Jul 2019

Crusaders fans prepare for third title fight

7:04 pm on 5 July 2019

Crusaders rugby supporters are bullish about winning a third Super Rugby title in a row, but not everyone in the garden city wants the hosts to emerge victorious.

The Crusaders celebrate one of Sevu Reece's two tries in the win over the Hurricanes.

The Crusaders celebrate one of Sevu Reece's two tries in the win over the Hurricanes. Photo: Photosport

The defending champions are taking on Argentina's Jaguares in an all but sold out match in Christchurch tomorrow night.

There were a plethora of self-assured fans, a sprinkling of doubters, and some out of towners who would like nothing more then for the Crusaders to lose in Christchurch's streets today.

Alan Martin did not give the Jaguares a chance against the Crusaders.

"They are gonna get killed, the Crusaders will take them out without a problem."

Despite the Crusaders not having All Blacks' Ryan Crotty or Scott Barrett for Saturday's clash, Martin believed it would not make a difference.

"The Jaguares will go home sad but they have got to go home happy though, coming second is pretty good."

Many people shared Martin's confidence that Jaguares will be no match for the Crusader.

However, a few were not as quick to write off the Jaguares' chances.

Sam Horsnell is a Crusaders fan through and through, and will be at Christchurch Stadium for Saturday's final.

He said the Jaguares could cause the Crusaders grief if they attempted to match them at their own game.

"They'll need to defend, spread the ball, try and counter what we do, maybe even play similar style to us - the Crusaders are not used to that."

Horsnell was excited to have a new team that wasn't from South Africa, Australia or New Zealand in the final.

The Jaguares success has also created excitement among New Zealand's Argentinean community.

Juan Cruz Rodolfi lives and works in Christchurch. He is a rugby fan and has been following this year's Super Rugby tournament closely.

However, he never thought his home team would reach the final, let alone play in Christchurch.

"It's just crazy. I was following the Crusaders against the Hurricanes and I really wanted the Hurricanes to win because it would the final different.

"At the same time, I wanted the Crusaders to win because we would play here in Christchurch now I can go and watch them.

Rodolfi said he and other members of Christchurch's Latin community will be sure to make their voices heard come Saturday.

Fans are not the only ones who have a lot riding on the tomorrows game.

Bar and Restaurant owners in the CBD are saying this weekend's final is going to bring a much needed boost after a sluggish winter.

Peter Morrison from Hospitality New Zealand said the game has brought 200 fans from Argentina into the city, which has created excitement.

However, Morrison said there are still not enough people coming into the central city and operators were hanging out for key anchor projects, such as the Te Pae Conference centre to be completed.

"We're still very much missing the convention centre which won't happen till next year. Normally in winter, prior to the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch had 25 percent of New Zealand's conferences, at the moment we are 8 percent.

"That will change next year."

Mel Ling, who co-owns The Little Fiddler Pub, on The Terrace, said she didn't blame people for not coming out into the city.

"There's got to be a reason to draw people in.

"To me, and it's not because it's winter, it's a very cold atmosphere in the city. There has not been fun or laughter happening on the street."

She said the Super Rugby final had brought a little more energy to life on The Terrace, a stretch of bars and eateries that open out onto the Avon River.

She was looking forward to the weekend, as people were sure to be out and about, but she still had her concerns.

"It's great we have the final, I can't wait for this Saturday, it's going to be madness but then you have to ask, what happens the following week?"