March 16, 2011
CHRISTCHURCH: The Crusaders have secured London's famed Twickenham ground to host a Super Rugby match this month as a Christchurch disaster fundraiser.
The Crusaders said their round six home tie against South Africa's team the Sharks would be played at Twickenham on March 27, making it the first Super Rugby match ever played outside the southern hemisphere.
The Crusaders had to abandon AMI Stadium in Christchurch after last month's devastating earthquake in the city, which killed an estimated 180 people, forcing them to play at smaller venues in the South Island.
Chief executive Hamish Riach said the Twickenham blockbuster, set to attract London's huge expatriate New Zealand and South African communities, "will hopefully allow us to consolidate our financial situation for this year".
"We're extremely grateful to everyone who has played a part in making this match happen," he said in a statement.
Reports said authorities in Britain had given consent for 55,000 tickets to be sold for the game at the 82,000-seat venue. A proportion of ticket takings will go to the Christchurch earthquake appeal.
SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said the Twickenham move was prompted by unique circumstances and "should be viewed as a one-off, rather than a new trend of moving Super Rugby matches outside their usual territories."
With AMI Stadium still out of action, the Crusaders said their April 9 home match against the Northern Bulls would be played in Timaru.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks said they would play an earthquake fundraiser tentatively scheduled for July 22, with the opposition and venue yet to be confirmed.
Coach Graham Henry said the date fell between the end of the Super 15 tournament and the beginning of the Tri Nations series, giving the All Blacks a chance to work on preparations for the international season.
"It's great if we can also use the opportunity to raise funds for the people of Christchurch," he said.