Cape Town - The travel factor could prove the difference in Saturday’s Super Rugby final between the Lions and Crusaders in Johannesburg, New Zealand Rugby’s medical chief Ian Murphy believes.
The Crusaders travelled 13 194kms and about 16 hours from Christchurch to get to their final destination and will have to upset the history books if they are to win the title.
Since the start of the professional ear in 1996, no team has won the Super Rugby title by travelling across the Indian Ocean for a final.
In an interview with the Stuff.co.nz website, Murphy said there was significant research to suggest teams travelling across a time zone will play at less than 100 percent.
"There is some evidence to suggest if you are significantly jet-lagged your performance will drop. It's around precision activities as well. It's how coordinated you are and how good your reaction times are and that sort of thing,” Murphy said.
"There is a reason home advantage is exactly that. Home advantage and the issues the travelling team face around jet-lag and time zones and the fact they're travelling long distances. Between all that (the Lions) have got an advantage before you start."
The Crusaders is Super Ruby’s most successful team with seven titles, but their last success was in the 2008 season.
Saturday's final at Ellis Park is scheduled for 16:00.