Thu, Mar 17, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Crusaders seal Twickenham in Super Rugby first

AFP, CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND

The Canterbury Crusaders yesterday confirmed Twickenham would host a Super 15 earthquake benefit this month, as the All Blacks announced their own Christchurch disaster fundraiser.

The Crusaders said their round six home tie against South Africa’s Coastal Sharks would be played at the famous London ground on March 27, making it the first Super Rugby match ever played outside the southern hemisphere.

The Crusaders had to abandon the AMI Stadium in Christchurch after last month’s earthquake in the city, which killed an estimated 180 people, forcing them to play at smaller venues in New Zealand’s South Island.

Chief executive Hamish Riach said the Twickenham blockbuster, set to attract London’s huge expatriate New Zealand and South African communities, “will hopefully allow us to consolidate our financial situation for this year.”

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who has played a part in making this match happen,” he said in a statement.

Reports said authorities in Britain had given consent for 55,000 tickets to be sold for the game at the 82,000-seat venue. A proportion of ticket takings will go to the Christchurch earthquake appeal.

South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby chief executive Greg Peters said the Twickenham move was prompted by unique circumstances and “should be viewed as a one-off, rather than a new trend of moving Super Rugby matches outside their usual territories.” With AMI Stadium still out of action, the Crusaders said their April 9 home match against the Northern Bulls would be played in Timaru.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks said they would play an earthquake fundraiser tentatively scheduled for July 22, with the opposition and venue yet to be confirmed.

Coach Graham Henry said the date fell between the end of the Super 15 tournament and the beginning of the Tri-Nations series, giving the All Blacks a chance to work on preparations for the international season.

“It’s great if we can also use the opportunity to raise funds for the people of Christchurch,” Henry said.

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