Crusaders announce Nelson as temporary home
The Crusaders' first two Super Rugby home games will be played at Nelson's Trafalgar Park.
The Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby Union announced that today after the Christchurch earthquake damaged their traditional home base at AMI Stadium.
The Crusaders will play their week three match against the Waratahs on March 4 and their week four match against the Brumbies on March 11 both in Nelson.
AMI Stadium owners Vbase yesterday announced the Stadium would be closed until March 15 while they conducted a detailed assessment of damage caused by the earthquake.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said while the Crusaders team, management and staff were focussed on immediate issues in Christchurch, they wanted to keep the match within the franchise region.
"While we can't play at our first choice home ground for now, Nelson is still a real home for the Crusaders and we're looking forward to Crusaders' fans in the region coming out to support the team for these first two home games," Riach said.
"I am very thankful that our provincial union partner Tasman has been quick to respond to our need and they have been fantastic in getting ready to host these games. We are especially grateful to the Waratahs and the Brumbies who have willingly agreed to change their travel schedules from Australia to accommodate our change of venue," he said.
Meanwhile New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) is fully supportive of the venue change and is providing staff support for the match in Nelson.
NZRU CEO Steve Tew said: "We are very conscious of the extreme and stressful situation facing all those in Christchurch including our friends at the Crusaders.
"We have put extra resources into providing the Crusaders and Tasman with the support and expertise needed to host these matches in Nelson so our colleagues in Christchurch can concentrate on the most immediate issues that they face.
"We have received offers of support and sympathy for Christchurch and the Crusaders from practically every provincial union in New Zealand as well as rugby organisations around the world, which demonstrates the impact of this tragedy and the strong solidarity that exists within the wider rugby community," Tew said.
Tasman RFU CEO Peter Barr said: "While these are tragic circumstances which have led to this, Tasman is ready for Investec Super Rugby and we're right behind the Crusaders as they take on the Waratahs and Brumbies," Barr said.
"We are now calling on all supporters in this part of the South Island to get behind Christchurch, get behind the Crusaders and get along to both of these Investec Super Rugby games."
Riach said the Crusaders' management and Board are currently working through other logistical issues relating to ticket holders and commercial partners.