12 Aug 2008

Canterbury fear for champ Crusaders after Tasman chop

8:42 pm on 12 August 2008

The Canterbury rugby union boss Hamish Riach REE-ACK says the region's Super 14 franchise, the Crusaders, has been materially disadvantaged by the loss of Tasman from next year's provincial rugby competition.

Tasman has been told that, along with Northland, they'll be playing in the Heartland Championship instead of the Air New Zealand Cup in 2009.

That means the champion Crusaders will only have one top division provincial union to draw players from next season, compared to three for the Hurricanes and the Chiefs, and two for the Blues and Highlanders.

Riach says central contracts for Crusaders players, instead of relying on the union, would be one way to get around this.

But Hamish Riach says there's a lot of detail to sort out with the NZRU and the Player's Association and there may need to be a shorter term solution so the Crusaders can field a competitive team in 2009.