Charity rugby match yields big money

A charity rugby match between the Classic All Blacks and their old Wallaby rivals in Brisbane has raised at least $A405,366 ($NZ532,706) towards for the Christchurch earthquake relief fund.

The All Black veterans, including Cantabrians Justin Marshall, Scott Robertson, Caleb Ralph and Reuben Thorne, won 58-20 at Ballymore last night though the score line was always of secondary importance.

A bumper crowd of 20,000 watched their ageing test heroes roll back the years with a game wisely divided into four 20 minutes quarters - and unlimited substitutions - to build in plenty of recovery time.

Although the encounter had a festival feel to it from Jeff Wilson's opening score and the last by Ian Jones it started in sombre circumstances when both sides observed a minute's silence to honour the 166 people so far confirmed killed by the February 22 quake.

Thorn, who captained the Classic All Blacks, paid tribute to the players who were willing to participate at short notice and the support from a crowd evenly distributed between Australians and ex-pat New Zealanders.

"The people back home in Christchurch will really appreciate this," Thorn said.

The fund will be boosted further tomorrow when jerseys worn by the players are auctioned on line.

Proceeds from the successful Classic All Blacks shirt bids will be distributed to Christchurch rugby clubs damaged by the earthquake; money raised by the Classic Wallaby jerseys will be added to the Queensland flood and cyclone relief effort.

The exhibition match was organised by former Wallabies fullback turned television commentator Greg Martin and featured an array of trans-Tasman legends including Christian Cullen, Craig Dowd, Frank Bunce, David Campese, George Gregan and Tim Horan.