The Crusaders want to repay their Cape-based supporters with a convincing performance against the Stormers on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Cape Crusaders tend to polarise opinion in South African rugby circles. Should fans be allowed to support whoever they wish? Are the supporters who get behind New Zealand teams – especially in matches staged in South Africa – really traitors to the local rugby cause?
New Zealand rugby teams, of course, don’t worry themselves with such questions. There was a time when they dodged the debate when it was put to them at press conferences in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. More recently, however, the All Blacks, as well as the Crusaders have embraced this support wholeheartedly.
‘We’ve seen a lot of supporters around the hotel and training this week. It’s been wonderful,’ said Brad Mooar on Thursday.
The Crusaders assistant coach was speaking from the team’s base on the Foreshore in Cape Town. The reigning Vodacom Super Rugby champions will face the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
‘That support is something we can be proud of, in terms of the Crusaders sides that have come to South Africa before us and represented our club. It’s our obligation to perform and give due respect to that support.’
The Crusaders are coming off a 45-13 win against the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld. According to Mooar, there will be no danger of complacency when the side visits Newlands this weekend.
‘The Stormers have a lot of Springboks in their side, and for that reason we are on high alert,’ Mooar said. ‘We’ve got a lot of respect for South African players and for South African rugby history.
‘It’s a privilege to play at grounds like Loftus and Newlands and have the chance to put our wee mark on that.’
All Blacks and Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty agreed that the occasion would be one to savour. Crotty was part of the All Blacks side that beat the Boks 25-24 at Newlands in 2017.
‘It’s a really special ground and the Crusaders have had some really memorable games there,’ the veteran said.
‘We’ve been on the wrong side of a couple of losses, and on the right side of some really great wins. It’s special to play here and it’s exciting to be back.’
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images