Crusaders to play in Fiji?

Date published: November 27 2014

The Crusaders have announced plans to play next year’s Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Fiji.

The Crusaders have announced plans to play next year’s Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Fiji.

According to New Zealand media reports, the Crusaders are looking at alternatives for the May 29 match as their home ground, the AMI Stadium, will be for FIFA’s U20 World Cup in May and June.

Initially, the Christchurch-based franchise considered Nelson and Timaru but when a sponsor offered to fund the match if it was played in Fiji, the Crusaders started discussing the concept with tournament officials.

If the match was to be played in Fiji then the National Stadium in Suva is the likely venue.

Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach refused to comment on the possibility of shifting the game to Fiji.

“We can’t comment on the specifics of our Hurricanes game but it is true that venue has not been confirmed,” he told Fairfax Media.

“I just can’t comment.

“All we can say is we are continuing to work through the venue for the game.”

Wellington and Dunedin have been ruled out as alternative venues due to the FIFA tournament.

Sanzar completed their tournament draw and New Zealand teams will host the majority of their matches in the early part of the competition in a bid to minimise the disruption.

Christchurch will host one of the FIFA tournament’s semi0finals on June 17 and the ground will then be released for the Super Rugby play-offs which starts two days later.

“With some luck and leeway around the time of captain’s runs, if the Crusaders earned the right to host a Super Rugby quarter-final we think we should be able to cope but it would be very tight,” added Riach.

If the Crusaders get approval for the match in Fiji then their last four pool fixtures will be played away in Sydney, Fiji, Auckland and Canberra.

That schedule will have a bigger impact on the Crusaders if they qualify for play-off matches in Australia or South Africa

Concerns from the players’ association or coaching staff about the squad’s welfare could be overruled as the Crusaders management seeks a financial benefit.

They believe they should be able to make a commercial decision as the All Blacks did with their Test in Japan in 2013 and against the USA in Chicago earlier this month.

The Crusaders played a ‘home’ match overseas in 2011. That was against the Sharks at Twickenham Stadium in London following the destruction of the old AMI Stadium during the Christchurch earthquake.