Crusaders

Crusaders look ahead to well-earned bye after strong start to season

The Crusaders - for now - are currently top of the Super Rugby standings, after beating southern rivals the Highlanders 33-13 in Christchurch on Friday night. 

They're 3-1 this season with wins over the Waratahs, Blues and Highlanders, with their lone defeat coming against the unbeaten Chiefs a fortnight ago. 

Last year, the Crusaders had to wait until week 10 of the competition for a bye, but their first comes much earlier this season - and at a good time as well. 

Crusaders continue to dominate Blues

The two teams have a traditional rivalry like no other and Friday night was another physical battle.

In his first start of the season Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu crossed the try line in the sixth minute to give the home side an early lead.

There was a significant delay following the opening try as Crusaders tighthead prop Oliver Jager suffered a head injury attempting a tackle and was taken from the field.

Twenty minutes later the Crusaders wing George Bridge had given the visitors the lead after some good work off a lineout five metres from the try line.

Sevu Reece commits to New Zealand Rugby and Crusaders

The news comes on the back of the 22-year-old's breakout season last year.  Reece was called into the Crusaders as a replacement before joining the squad fulltime. His blistering pace and sharp finishing saw him top the try-scoring chart for the Super Rugby season with 15 tries.

His year got better when he was picked for the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship, and then the Rugby World Cup squad.  He played seven tests in total in 2019, including four matches at RWC2019, and scored four tries.

Mo'unga out and McKenzie in for Super Rugby showdown

Lingering knee and groin injuries for Crusaders first five-eighth Richie Mo'unga means coach Scott Robertson has rearranged his backline for the round two match.

Regular Crusaders fullback David Havili will start at first five-eighth for the first time at Super Rugby level to fill the gap left by Mo'unga who left the field during the Crusaders opening round win over the Waratahs.

Will Jordan moves to fullback and Sevu Reece lines up on the right wing.

Despite the loss of 17-game All Black Mo'unga, the Crusaders will not be short on experience.

Crusaders start 2020 season with comfortable win over Waratahs

The Crusaders opened the scoring with a penalty kick to hometown hero David Havili in the 10th minute and never relinquished the lead for the rest of the match.

Wingers Will Jordan and Leicester Faingaanuku and midfielder Braydon Ennor all scored tries in the first half, while Waratahs first five Will Harrison kept his side in the match early with two penalties.

By halftime the Crusaders had a 24-6 lead and looked to be cruising as first five Richie Mo'unga kept the visitors guessing with his pin point cross field kicks and deft passing.

Razor only wants to be All Blacks head coach

Robertson is one of the front-runners to be the next All Blacks coach and has confirmed he has his job interview with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) lined up for December.

The Super Rugby title-winning coach said he only had interest in the All Blacks top job and would not consider an assistant role with the national side.

NZR reached out to 26 prospective candidates to replace outgoing coach Steve Hansen.

Fiji Airways extends Crusaders sponsorship

The partnership will see Fiji Airways feature on the front of the Crusaders’ away jerseys from 2020.

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said this will be the first time the Crusaders has had a separate front-of-jersey sponsor for their home and away jerseys, and they are thrilled the team’s away jerseys will feature the Fiji Airways brand from 2020.

Mansbridge added the Crusaders largest fan base outside of New Zealand is in Fiji, which is unsurprising given the overwhelming support they have from local fans whenever the team has played a Super Rugby match in Suva.

Read signs off in style

Read was instrumental in helping his side produce a clinical 19-3 victory over the Jaguares in Christchurch to complete a "three-peat" and win their 10th Super Rugby title.

The 33-year-old is heading to Japanese club Toyota after the Rugby World Cup this year and he left Christchurch content with the end to his Super Rugby career that began in 2007.

"It's given me everything," Read said of what the Crusaders meant to him in a televised interview. "I love this place.

Perfect 10 for the Crusaders

The two-time defending champions have beaten the Jaguares 19-3 in the final in Christchurch, despite the Argentinian side having the greater share of possession and territory.

Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor scored the only try of the match, while first-five Richie Mo'unga kicked four penalties and a conversion.

Captain Sam Whitelock spoke of his immense pride in all of his players after being handed the trophy for the third straight season.

Crusaders have "brought the community together"

The match at Rugby League Park comes just 16 weeks after Christchurch became the site of New Zealand's worst massacre when 51 people were killed in a mass shooting at two mosques on March 15.

For a population still rebuilding after a 2011 earthquake devastated the city and killed about 190 people, the shootings were a harsh body blow and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson recognised the turmoil the community has faced in recent months.