Crusaders plan Force match in Melbourne




Victorians are in for another dose of elite rugby union with the Canterbury Crusaders booking another visit to Melbourne next year.


Australia’s The Herald Sun says that the Super 14 powerhouse yesterday confirmed it would play the Perth-based Western Force at Olympic Park in early February on a date to be confirmed.

It is the third consecutive year the teams will have played a pre-season match in Melbourne, with both previous encounters having attracted large crowds.

Another solid turn-out would add to the Crusaders’ push to play a regular season match in Melbourne, perhaps as early as 2009.

Crusaders media manager Matt McIlwraith told the Herald Sun that the Christchurch-based club looked forward to building on its already strong Melbourne ties.

“It’s a great sporting venue and the guys love going there,” McIlwraith said.

‘There’s a great rugby base in Victoria and as you saw, or heard, on Saturday night (at the Bledisloe Cup at the MCG), New Zealand teams don’t lack for support there at all.”

McIlwraith said the Crusaders were likely to field an even stronger team than the one that beat Force at Princes Park in January.

He said several of the club’s All Blacks representatives had been unavailable this year with World Cup training commitments but would be on deck in February.

The Crusaders were beaten in this year’s Super 14 semi-final by eventual champions the Pretoria Bulls, while Force finished seventh in just their second season.

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