London match: Crusaders turned down

2011-03-10 00:00

AN ambitious plan to stage the Crusaders’ Super Rugby match against the Sharks at Twickenham in London on March 26 was scuttled last night by the English Rugby Football Union (RFU), writes JOHN BISHOP.

Earlier this week the Crusaders proposed that their game against the touring Sharks, scheduled to be played in Nelson on March 25, be moved to Twickenham.

The Crusaders’ home games have been switched from devastated Christchurch to the small ground in Nelson, but the cash-strapped hosts were looking instead to draw a massive crowd of expats by playing in London.

But the RFU yesterday told the Crusaders that Twickenham will not be available and that the logistical challenges are too great to stage the fixture at such short notice, particularly with near-neighbours Harlequins playing Gloucester in the Premiership on the same day.

An RFU spokesperson said: “Given we are keen to help support the people of Christchurch as they recover from the dreadful events of the last few weeks this was something we looked at seriously.

“Unfortunately, it has just not proved possible to do this given the operational challenges involved and the Harlequins game on the same day less than one mile away.

“We have confirmed this to Crusaders today, but have offered other dates later in the Super 15 season to continue to offer the hand of rugby friendship to Christchurch and its people.”

Wembley Stadium is also not available as England are playing Ghana in a friendly on March 29.

The request had been favourably received by the Sharks but they said that a final decision would be made only after the game against the Rebels in Melbourne tomorrow.

Brian van Zyl, the Sharks CEO, told The Witness earlier yesterday that the proposal has thrown up “a whole bunch of logistical problems, but we are certainly considering it”.


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