Cru­saders make Su­per Rugby his­tory in SA

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOBENI

IM­POS­SI­BLE is now pos­si­ble.

That is the ba­sic story of what the Cru­saders have been able to do on their way to ex­tend­ing their championship win­ning run to an eighth Su­per Rugby ti­tle.

In beat­ing the Lions 25-17 in Satur­day’s Su­per Rugby fi­nal at El­lis Park, the New Zealan­ders not only added an­other ti­tle to their al­ready dec­o­rated his­tory in the com­pe­ti­tion but they be­came the first side to cross the In­dian Ocean to win the tro­phy.

They de­fied the odds by break­ing an im­pres­sive record that the Lions held of not hav­ing lost a knock­out game against New Zealand op­po­si­tion in the past two years and fur­ther­more up­set the pop­u­lar be­lief by win­ning as over­whelm­ing un­der­dogs.

In the process of win­ning the tro­phy, the Cru­saders el­e­vated their coach Scott Robert­son to rugby im­mor­tal­ity as the only man who has won Su­per Rugby as a player and a coach.

The break­danc­ing and ec­cen­tric Robert­son has been hum­bled by his his­tory-mak­ing feat and has given much credit to his team’s suc­cess to the de­ter­mi­na­tion and de­sire of his play­ers.

“To win against the Brumbies away and to win this away and be the only two teams to do it is what Cru­saders do and what I am proud of. We re­ally worked hard to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate his­tory and this is just an­other part of our his­tory. We get asked ques­tions ev­ery time about not win­ning this com­pe­ti­tion in a while and that we are ex­pected to do it. The fact that we have now done it means that we won’t have those ques­tions for a while but we did it for our­selves, our peo­ple and the past Cru­saders as well. There has been high ex­pec­ta­tion and we have a num­ber of All Blacks that have won at in­ter­na­tional level but not at fran­chise level and they have now as a Cru­sader and we have put that well to bed,” Robert­son said after Satur­day’s his­toric feat.

Cru­saders cap­tain Sam White­lock echoed Robert­son’s sen­ti­ments and with a host of All Blacks in their team who have won ev­ery­thing there is to in world rugby, the fact that they had not won Su­per Rugby was a ter­ri­ble mon­key on their backs.

The cur­rent Cru­saders side is prob­a­bly the most tal­ented of all of their championship win­ning teams but to have not won a Su­per Rugby ti­tle in the past nine years was an al­ba­tross around their necks that they could not wait to rid them­selves of.

After los­ing one match dur­ing the round robin stages of this year’s cam­paign, it was never go­ing to be a fore­gone con­clu­sion that the Lions were go­ing to be crowned cham­pi­ons and earn the fairy­tale end­ing that they were look­ing for ahead of their coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann’s de­par­ture for Eng­land.

The Cru­saders did enough dur­ing the sea­son and in Satur­day’s epic en­counter to end off as de­served cham­pi­ons and there will be no bet­ter peo­ple than the res­i­dents of the dis­as­ter struck Christchurch to cel­e­brate this mon­u­men­tal achieve­ment ac­cord­ing to White­lock.

“We were talk­ing about it be­fore that a num­ber of us have been here for eight or nine years and have never tasted vic­tory. Out there it was awe­some just to look at your mate in the eye and no words spo­ken and just emo­tion came out from ev­ery­one. To have that feel­ing is amaz­ing and not only for us but the guys at home too that have had a mas­sive year. We can’t wait to get home and con­nect with them again and share these mo­ments with them,” White­lock said.

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGEPIX

CHAM­PI­ONS: Sam White­lock cel­e­brates with the Su­per Rugby tro­phy after his Cru­saders side downed the Lions on Satur­day.

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