Rugby great speaks out to defend Crusaders

23:52, Jul 18 2012
Blues v Crusaders
Blues centre Rene Ranger on the charge.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues loosehead prop Tom McCartney attempts to charge the kick of Crusaders first five Tyler Bleyendaal.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean dives over to score during against the Blues.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders captain Kieran Read is tackled by Blues fullback Isaia Toeava.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues first five Michael Hobbs is tackled by Crusaders second five Ryan Crotty.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders captain Kieran Read after a Blues try.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues captain Keven Mealamu in action against the Crusaders.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders captain Kieran Read loses his shorts against the Blues.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders first five Tyler Bleyendaal is scragged by Blues replacement Brad Mika.
Zac Guildford
Zac Guildord is tackled over the sideline by Highlanders first-five Lima Sopoaga.
George Whitelock
George Whitelock crashes into the Highlanders defence.
Robbie Fruean
Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean makes the mistake of running at Nasi Manu and Adam Thomson.
Sean Maitland
Crusaders wing Sean Maitland skips down the sideline at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Luke Romano, Jason Rutledge and George Whitelock
Crusaders Luke Romano (left) and George Whitelock put the hit on Highlanders reserve hooker Jason Rutledge.
Tyler Bleyendaal
Young Crusaders No 10 Tyler Bleyendaal releases the ball to his outside backs.
Tim Nanai-Williams and Israel Dagg
Chiefs wing Tim Nanai-Williams passes the ball in-field as he is pushed to the ground by Israel Dagg.
George Whitelock and Liam Messam
Crusaders No 6 George Whitelock brings down a kick-off, under pressure from his Chiefs opposite Liam Messam.
Chiefs v Crusaders gallery
Luke Romano of the Crusaders wins a lineout against the Chiefs at McLean Park.
Chiefs v Crusaders gallery
Tawera Kerr-Barlow of the Chiefs is tackled by Kieran Read of the Crusaders.
Chiefs v Crusaders gallery
Aaron Cruden of the Chiefs gets a kick away while being tackled against the Crusaders at McLean Park.
Chiefs v Crusaders gallery
George Whitelock (L) and Corey Flynn of the Crusaders tackle Robbie Robinson of the Chiefs.
Crusaders gallery
Sean Maitland scores a try against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders gallery
Crusaders players Sean Maitland's try.
Crusaders gallery
The new AMI Stadium before the Crusaders' match against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders gallery
Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis crunched in a Cheetahs tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Fans at the new Christchurch Stadium in Addington.
Crusaders gallery
Israel Dagg is wrapped up in the tackle against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders gallery
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders crosses over to score a try against the Lions at Ellis Park
Crusaders gallery
Alwyn Hollenbach of the Lions tackled by Robert Fruean of the Crusaders at Ellis Park
Crusaders gallery
Israel Dagg of the Crusaders tackled by Jaco Taute of the Lions at Ellis Park
Crusaders gallery
Kieran Read of the Crusaders wins the ball against the Lions at Ellis Park
Crusaders gallery
Sean Maitland of the Crusaders catches the ball against the Lions at Ellis Park
Crusaders gallery
Dan Carter of the Crusaders sets up a try against the Lions at Ellis Park.
Crusaders gallery
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders attacks against the Lions at Ellis Park.
Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford sends a pass out wide during the Crusaders' 32-30 loss in Pretoria.
Luke Whitelock
Luke Whitelock pulls down a lineout throw at Loftus Versfeld.
Morne Steyn and Matt Todd
Crusaders' No 7 Matt Todd attempts to charge down the kick of Morne Steyn.
Israel Dagg and Sean Maitland
Israel Dagg hops in the air to get a pass away in the tackle to team-mate Sean Maitland.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg is hauled down by Bulls first-five Morne Steyn.
Crusaders v Stormers
Corey Flynn during the Crusaders match against the Stormers at the AMI Stadium at Addington.
Crusaders v Stormers
Israel Dagg during the Crusaders match against the Stormers at the AMI Stadium at Addington.
Crusaders v Stormers
Crusader Matt Todd in action against the Stormers.
Hurricanes gallery
Crusaders' Dan Carter passes against the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes gallery
Hurricanes' Jeremy Thrush and Crusaders' Kieran Read battle for the ball.
Hurricanes gallery
Crusaders' Wyatt Crockett hits out at Hurricanes' Chris Eaton.
Hurricanes gallery
Crusaders' Andrew Ellis passes against the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes gallery
Crusaders' Ben Franks on the charge against the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes gallery
Crusaders' Israel Dagg is tackled by Hurricanes' Ben May.
Crusaders v Waratahs in Sydney
Robbie Fruean takes time out during the Crusaders' defeat of the Waratahs in Sydney.
Crusaders v Waratahs in Sydney
Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read bursts into space against the Waratahs.
Crusaders v Waratahs in Sydney
Crusaders winger Zac Guildford gets a pass away against the Waratahs.
Crusaders v Waratahs in Sydney
Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean bursts clear for his first try against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Crusaders v Reds
Israel Dagg tackled by Ben Lucas as the Crusaders take on the Reds in Christchurch.
Crusaders v Reds
Kieran Read leads out the Crusaders against the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Tom Taylor lines up a kick against the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Referee Bryce Lawrence sends off Wyatt Crockett against the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Luke Romano on the charge against the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Zac Guildford on the charge against the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Thomas Tracey, 6, Tom Hearn, 6, Ben Strickland, 6, Tatsumi Konishi, 6, and McNamara Kane, 6 at the game.
Crusaders v Rebels
The Crusaders win a lineout against the Rebels at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Crusaders v Rebels
Stirling Mortlock of the Rebels celebrates victory at the final whistle against the Crusaders at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Crusaders v Rebels
Nick Phipps of the Rebels scores a try against the Crusaders at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Crusaders v Rebels
Gareth Delve of the Rebels runs with the ball against the Crusaders at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Crusaders v Rebels
Luke Whitelock and Sam Whitelock make a tackle against the Rebels.
Crusaders v Rebels
Andy Ellis prepares to kick against the Rebels.
Crusaders v Rebels
Richie McCaw is tackled against the Rebels.
Hurricanes v Blues
Zac Guildford coming in for a try against the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Zac Guildford is tackled by Angus Ta'avao (top) and Steven Luata of the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Robbie Fruean on attack against the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Dan Carter cool under pressure against the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Tom Marshall grabs a try against the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Robbie Fruean on attack against the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Richie McCaw covers a cut lip against the Highlanders.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Adam Thompson hits Andy Ellis into touch.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Kieran Read rubs Jarrad Hoeata's face in the dirt.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Wyatt Crockett scores for the Crusdaders.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Ben Smith and Andy Ellis have a punch up.
Crusaders v Highlanders
George Whitelock of the Crusaders gets a yellow card.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Kieran Read of the Crusaders on the charge.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders goes in for a try.
Hurricanes v Crusaders
Hurricanes players celebrate their win against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes v Crusaders
Crusaders' Richie McCaw gets up-ended going for the high ball.
rugby 5
Crusader Sean Maitland takes on Hurricane Tim Bateman.
rugby 5
Crusaders' Wyatt Crockett on the burst.
rugby 5
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders runs away to score a try against the Hurricanes.
Chiefs v Crusaders
Richie McCaw comes in to tackle Sona Taumalolo.
Chiefs v Crusaders
Israel Dagg takes a high ball in front of Aaron Cruden.
Chiefs v Crusaders
Luke Romano scores for the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
Chiefs v Crusaders
Kieran Read scores for the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
Chiefs v Crusaders
Hika Elliot fends of Israel Dagg.
Israel Dagg
DETERMINED: Israel Dagg just moments before scoring the first try for the Crusaders against the Western Force.
Crusaders v Rebels
Matt Todd scores a try against the Western Force.
Crusaders v Rebels
Crusaders' players celebrate the Matt Todd try against the Western Force.
Crusaders v Rebels
Two captains, Richie McCaw and Nathan Sharpe talk after the match.
Crusaders v Rebels
Israel Dagg scores first try against the Western Force.
Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford streaks away to score against the Bulls.
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw is held in the tackle by the Bulls.

Canterbury rugby legend Fergie McCormick has leapt to the defence of the under-siege Crusaders, claiming accusations the seven-time Super rugby champions are serial cheats is "well off the mark".

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett, a former Crusaders hooker and assistant coach, also said he did not think his former franchise were deliberately flouting the game's rules.

McCormick, an All Black fullback between 1965 and 1971, was not surprised at comments made by Mark Reason in his column that ran on stuff.co.nz yesterday.

Fergie McCormick
NOT CHEATS: Former All Black fullback Fergie McCormick.

Reason, a Fairfax columnist, slated the Crusaders as cheats.

The piece generated interest across the world yesterday with patriotic Crusaders fans venting their frustration in all possible avenues.

The article attracted more than 500 comments on Fairfax websites.

Advertisement

The Crusaders were approached to comment but were told McCaw and head coach Todd Blackadder did not wish to respond.

But McCormick, a former Canterbury Rugby Football Union president, went to bat for his beleaguered buddies.

Canterbury's most capped player had one simple question when queried about Reason's column: "Is he related to a John Reason who used to write back when I was playing?"

After it was confirmed Mark Reason was the son of John Reason, the late rugby correspondent from London's Telegraph newspaper group, McCormick said the column finally made sense.

"He is a lot worse than his father. John was a bit of poison pen back in the day and was always having a moan about something to do with New Zealand rugby and the All Blacks. As far as he was concerned, we were always wrong, and it appears that has carried on through to his son as well.

"I think his comments were well off the mark."

Reason was also critical of Richie McCaw using bullying tactics against referees to sway decisions in the Crusaders' favour, and various other indiscretions around the rugby field.

McCormick leapt to the All Black captain's defence.

"In my opinion Richie is so quick at some of his play that the refs can't keep up with him," he said.

"The good referees know how to handle that well, but some don't and it shows up."

The Bulls - who play the Crusaders in Saturday's Super rugby playoffs at Christchurch's AMI Stadium - yesterday declined to comment.

Head coach Frans Ludeke said Blackadder was "a personal friend" and the Bulls had "huge respect" for the way the Crusaders "conduct themselves on and off the field".

Hammett said he had not read Reason's column but he "certainly wouldn't have thought" the Crusaders were cheats.

He said if referees were being influenced, they "need to be working on their skills to ensure they're not being influenced".

Hammett said it was human nature to "get away with what you can".

He said openside flanker McCaw always said he approached the first couple of rucks to "test out" the referee's interpretations in the tackle area "as any good No 7 will".

The Press