Crusaders' name dual All Blacks captains in final pre-season hit-out

The game of three halves will kick off from midday at Hautapu Sports in Cambridge.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has confirmed the side’s All Blacks will return for 40 minutes of game time on Saturday, ahead of their opening match of the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa competition next weekend against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The Crusaders will play the Chiefs in the first half, and regular Captain Scott Barrett returns to lead the side, while Codie Taylor will Captain the second-half side against the Blues.

Super Rugby Aotearoa to extend if trans-tasman comp falls over

The tournament, in which the five New Zealand and Australian teams play cross over games in both countries, is scheduled to start in May.

However the competition is under threat due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, with a trans-tasman bubble needed to make the schedule work.

Currently anyone entering New Zealand or returning from overseas must quarantine for two weeks.

That would make the current Super Rugby Trans-Tasman schedule, which has the Chiefs playing in Perth on the opening round before returning to Hamilton for a home game the following week, unworkable.

Blues-Crusaders off again

The match was scheduled to be played on Saturday as part of the "Blues Footy Fest" event at Eden Park.

Blues CEO Andrew Hore says their priority is the safety and wellbeing of their players, staff and fans.

"We completely understand the situation and we support the directive from the New Zealand Government to reduce risk of any exposure and spread of this virus," Hore said.

"We all need to do our part to protect any spread of Covid-19 and at the current Level-3 Alert means we are unable to proceed with the game."

Crusaders defeat Highlanders in Super Rugby pre-season match

Winger Timoci Tavatavanawai scored two tries for the Crusaders, while prop Fletcher Newell and flanker Sione Havili also crossed for the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions.

Brett Cameron converted all four tries to secure the come-from-behind win.

Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman (2) and wingers Jona Nareki and Ngane Punivai scored the Highlanders tries.

The dramatic win may come at a cost for the Crusaders, who lost tighthead prop Oli Jager to a potentially serious foot injury.


Crusaders hooker Andrew Makalio out for Super Rugby season with neck injury

Makalio injured his neck following a collision while playing for Tasman towards the end of the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.

Subsequent investigations and specialist opinions have determined that surgery is required to manage this.

The surgical date has yet to be set, but the Crusaders have confirmed that Makalio will be out for the Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competitions. His return to play process will become clearer following surgery.

All Black midfielder out for nine months

Scans have confirmed that Ennor ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the North v South match in Wellington at the weekend.

Ennor, 23, who was named in the All Blacks squad on Sunday, will now see a specialist over the next few days, is expected to undergo surgery and be out of rugby for up to nine months.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: "It's hugely disappointing for Braydon, but he is a strong young man and we'll be supporting him as he goes through his surgery and rehab over the next few months."

Razor wants to join the Lions crusade

 Robertson guided the Crusaders to the Super Rugby Aotearoa title earlier this month to add to their three successive Super Rugby titles since he took over in 2017.

He missed out on the All Blacks coaching job last year and said he had approaced Lions and Chiefs coach Warren Gatland about a role on the Lions tour to help give him some international experience.

"I thought, look if I can't be involved with the All Blacks, what's the biggest thing - or actually bigger in its own self - the Lions tour - to get involved," Robertson told New Zealand radio station Gold AM.

Crusaders captain apologises on behalf of team for damage to Super Rugby Aoteraoa trophy

T? K?tahi Aotearoa, which the red and blacks claimed after defeating the Highlanders in their penultimate game of the competition, was a unique piece of artwork crafted in ?taki.

However during post-match celebrations the Crusaders admitted the trophy sustained minor damage, having been dropped. The team subsequently apologised and sought cultural advice.

Super Rugby matches still up in air


The country's shift back up the Covid-19 alert levels until at least midnight Friday has put both matches in serious doubt.

As it stands, Sunday's sold-out Blues-Crusaders match in Auckland could not go ahead, while Saturday's Highlanders-Hurricanes game in Dunedin could but without fans.

NZR general manager for professional rugby & performance Chris Lendrum said all their decision-making would be guided by government advice and they were awaiting the government update on Friday with interest.

Crusaders lift Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa trophy

The three-time defending Super Rugby champions have lifted the Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa trophy in front of their home fans after beating their southern neighbours 32-22 in Christchurch.

The Crusaders scored three unanswered tries in the last 20 minutes, having trailed 22-13 midway through the second-half and 17-13 at halftime.

It's their 11th Super Rugby title in total and ends the title hopes of the Blues and Hurricanes, who can now finish no higher than second.