The Crusaders dedicated their victory over the Highlanders in Melbourne on Friday to their head coach, Scott Robertson, who did not attend the match due to a family bereavement.
The defending champions delivered an excellent performance as they outscored the Highlanders by seven tries to two en route to an emphatic 52-15 triumph.
Robertson was not in Melbourne for the New Zealand South Island derby as he returned to Christchurch to be with his loved ones and handed the coaching duties to one of his assistants, Scott Hansen.
The stand-in coach said he spoke to Robertson after the match and said the players were playing for the former All Black and his family.
In the team’s thoughts
“Obviously we are thinking of them at this time. We spoke to Razor (Robertson) at the end of the game,” Hansen told reporters after the match.
“The main thing is, he is back home with his family.
“I do feel the boys did put in a performance for Ray (Robertson) and (wife) Jane. And we could be proud of that.”
Robertson’s absence could have been viewed as a possible distraction for the Crusaders, particularly after that Round One defeat to the Chiefs but Hansen was happy with the players’ display.
“I think we are pretty good in the Crusaders environment, around setting people up,” he added. “We just didn’t have the big man there with us.
“But I do feel the boys did put in a performance tonight for Ray (Robertson) and (wife) Jane. And we could be proud of that.”