Crusaders continue Melbourne campaign

The Crusaders are continuing to pursue their long-term goal of playing some Super 14 home games in Melbourne. [more]

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The Crusaders are continuing to pursue their long-term goal of playing some Super 14 home games in Melbourne.

The Christchurch-based franchise is likely to play a regular season game against the Stormers in London next year.

And the match may act as precursor to the team hosting a match in the Victorian capital in the 2009 season.

Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach told The Herald on Sunday: "We looked at playing the Brumbies in our opening game in Melbourne, but we never got to the point of seeking approval or making a formal application.

"The Brumbies game was the right one but we decided to play another trial game in Melbourne to see if the support we have had there in the past could be replicated.

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"Playing in Melbourne is something we don’t rule out and it is something we want to do in the future."

The Victorian Rugby Union supports the move.

The VRU and their Canterbury counterparts already share strong links, with Crusaders coaching staff providing support to the new Melbourne Rebels side in pre-season training for the inaugural Australian Rugby Championship.

VRU president Gary Gray said: "I would say the appetite for Super rugby has been enhanced truck-loads in the last 48 hours for a number of reasons.

"If rugby really is going to have a national footprint in Australia how can it ignore the second biggest, or maybe even the biggest, sporting market in the country?

"We have an underlying passion for rugby in Victoria and maybe people in the traditional rugby provinces don’t realise that we will be celebrating 100 years of existence in 2009.

"We have produced 26 Wallabies and continue to provide Super 14 players."

The move helps the Crusaders in their bid to expand their support base and find back-up venues to avoid the kind of scheduling clash that Auckland’s Blues have faced with cricket at Eden Park.

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