12 Mar 2011

Brisbane classic raises thousands for earthquake relief

12:14 pm on 12 March 2011

A charity rugby match between the Classic All Blacks and their old Australia rivals in Brisbane has raised $400,000 for the Christchurch earthquake relief fund.

The All Black veterans, including Cantabrians Justin Marshall, Scott Robertson, Caleb Ralph and Reuben Thorne, won 58-20 at Ballymore though the score line was always of secondary importance.

A crowd of around 20,000 watched their Test heroes roll back the years with a game wisely divided into four 20 minutes quarters - and unlimited substitutions - to build in plenty of recovery time.

Although the encounter had a festival feel to it from Jeff Wilson's opening score and the last by Ian Jones it started in sombre circumstances when both sides observed a minute's silence to honour the 166 people so far confirmed killed by the February 22nd quake.

Thorn, who captained the Classic All Blacks, paid tribute to the players who were willing to participate at short notice and the support from a crowd evenly distributed between Australians and ex-pat New Zealanders.

The fund will be boosted further when jerseys worn by the players are auctioned on line.

The exhibition match was organised by former Wallabies fullback turned television commentator Greg Martin and featured an array of trans-Tasman legends including Christian Cullen, Craig Dowd, Frank Bunce, David Campese, George Gregan and Tim Horan.