It’s Andrew Mehrtens against Richie Mo’unga as two of the Crusaders’ title-winning teams face off in Game 5 of the Greatest Super Rugby Team tournament.
The interactive tournament puts readers at the match controls to decide which of Super Rugby’s most prolific contenders was the greatest in the history of the southern-hemisphere competition.
The 1996 Sharks beat the 2001 Brumbies in Game 1, the 2010 Stormers stopped the 2006 Crusaders in Game 2. In Game 3 the 2014 Waratahs came up short against the 2008 Crusaders, while the 2007 Bulls hammered the 2019 Jaguares in last week’s vote.
Game 5 features the indomitable 2018 Crusaders against their 1999 predecessors in Christchurch. YOUR VOTE in the POLL below will decide who advances to the next round of the competition.
The 1999 Crusaders – coached by Wayne Smith – finished fourth on the overall table in the Super 12 and memorably claimed back-to-back titles after beating the Highlanders in the final in Dunedin.
The ’99 team was boosted by the presence of talismanic All Blacks flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens, who finished as the season’s top points-scorer with 192 points (including four drop goals, 43 penalties and 32 conversions). There was also wing Afato So’oalo, who had the decisive touch in the final – scoring the winning try – and was the joint-top try-scorer with eight overall that season.
In the pack, Smith’s side had All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne and an all-international tight five with lock Norm Maxwell, captain Todd Blackadder, props Greg Feek and Greg Somerville and hooker Mark Hammett.
However, many of these great Crusaders are mirrored by their 2018 successors, a side that was in the middle of a three-title streak for the Kiwi juggernauts between 2017 and 2019.
The 2018 Crusaders boasted All Blacks across the park, including World Cup winners in Ryan Crotty, Kieran Read and captain Sam Whitelock among others. Wing George Bridge scored 15 tries to finish second overall, while flyhalf Richie Mo’unga scored 150 points to finish as the seventh-highest points-scorer that year.
The 2018 team finished on top of the overall Super Rugby conference before comfortably beating the Sharks and Hurricanes in the two playoffs in Christchurch, hosting the Lions in the final. Scott Robertson’s team would prove to be too good for their opponents, scoring four converted tries and three penalties to walk away with a 37-18 victory.
1999 Crusaders – 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Caleb Ralph, 13 Daryl Gibson, 12 Norm Berryman, 11 Afato So’oalo, 10 Andrew Mehrtens, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Steve Surridge, 7 Reuben Thorne, 6 Angus Gardiner, 5 Norm Maxwell, 4 Todd Blackadder (c), 3 Greg Feek, 2 Mark Hammett, 1 Greg Somerville.
Coach: Wayne Smith
2018 Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Coach: Scott Robertson