Cru­saders Set To Opt Out Fiji

Fiji Sun - - Sport -

Christchurch:Don’t ex­pect the Cru­saders to host a game in Fiji next year.

Ex­actly where the Su­per Rugby champions will play their matches in 2018 has yet to be made public, al­though chief ex­ec­u­tive Hamish Ri­ach has al­ready de­clared the com­pe­ti­tion sched­ule, re­leased by San­zaar last week, isn’t con­ducive to his club trans­fer­ring a fix­ture to Suva.

When the Chiefs trans­ferred their “home” games against the Cru­saders to Suva for the last two years, they did so in the knowl­edge that the Fi­jian gov­ern­ment would in­vest around $1.6 mil­lion. Both teams were paid a fee, with the Chiefs, hav­ing taken the game away from Hamil­ton, get­ting a big­ger slice which was un­der­stood to be worth more than what they would earn from playing in front of a sold-out FMG Sta­dium. The Chiefs have con­firmed they won’t re­turn to Suva. Ri­ach doesn’t seem keen on the con­cept, ei­ther.

“We don’t think there is an op­por­tu­nity for us in 2018,” Ri­ach said. “The way the draw is, the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing like that is very lim­ited - so not likely.

“And re­mem­ber that tak­ing the game away re­quires the pro­mot­ers to give us that op­por­tu­nity as well. It is not some­thing we are com­pletely in the driver’s seat for.” With the com­pe­ti­tion for­mat re­duced to 15 teams fol­low­ing the dump­ing of the Force, Chee­tahs and Kings, each team will play 16 matches split on a home and away ba­sis.

The va­garies of the draw means the Cru­saders will not play the Reds or the Sharks.

Given coach Scott Robert­son is likely to have around 12 All Blacks in his squad, pos­si­bly more, trav­el­ling to Fiji may not ap­peal for those fac­ing a busy travel sched­ule for test matches later in the sea­son.

This sce­nario was played out in 2015 when star five-eighth Dan Carter said he dis­agreed with Cru­saders’ board’s plan to shift a game against the Hur­ri­canes to Suva. In the end it was played in Nel­son.

None of the New Zealand teams have re­vealed what venues they will use in 2018.

The Cru­saders’ charge to their first ti­tle win since 2008 should also add some zing to the bal­ance sheet. Ri­ach didn’t talk num­bers, but given his or­gan­i­sa­tion was awarded around $137,000 ap­pear­ance fee by the Lions, as re­quired un­der San­zaar rules, for playing the fi­nal in Jo­han­nes­burg the dig­its in black ink should be rea­son­able.

Photo: Zim­bio

Bryn Hall with fans af­ter round 13 Su­per Rugby match be­tween the Cru­saders-Chiefs at the ANZ Sta­dium, Suva on May 19, 2017

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