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Monday, July 4, 2011

One Last Road Game for the Crusaders

The earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand on February 22nd of this year killed 181 people and caused destruction on a huge scale in the center of Christchurch and the eastern suburbs. It caused enough structural damage to AMI Stadium where Rugby World Cup organizers had no choice but to move the matches originally slated for Christchurch to other venues.
The result for the Canterbury Crusaders was that this 2011 Super Rugby season was going to put them as the rugby version of the Harlem Globetrotters. All of the Crusaders games this year have been on the road. It's been figured that the Crusaders have covered over 113,000 km(enough to circle the earth 3 times) and have played games as far away as England.

With all of that in mind, the Crusaders' emphatic 29-10 semi-final win against the Stormers in Cape Town was almost like a walk to the corner market. Their victory gives the Crusaders a chance to put some last frequent-flyer miles to their credit when they travel to Brisbane to take on the Queensland Reds to see if they can boost morale back in Canterubury with a win.

I have been wracking my brain, and I cannot think of a single sports team in any sport who has had to overcome so much and play every game away from home. It's one thing to be on the road for a World Cup or World Championship, but to belong to a league and play every game on the road, and still make it to the final is pretty incredible stuff.

As great as Queensland's turn-around has been this year, I have to say that even their rise to the top of Southern Hemisphere club rugby from door-mat status pales in comparison to what the Crusaders have been able to do. It's really a testament to the resiliency and leadership of the coaching staff and players to have even gotten to this point.

After the way they dismantled a pretty good Stormers side(Loaded with players who will be wearing Springbok colors at the Rugby World Cup) in Cape Town, I would not bet against McCaw and his mates against the Queenslanders this coming Saturday.

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