Kiwi expat fans will help fill Sydney stadium
Australians are for once rolling out the red carpet for Kiwis.
New Zealand fans are being encouraged to snap up tickets to this Saturday's Super Rugby final between the Waratahs and Crusaders in Sydney.
Many of the city's more than 80,000 Kiwi expats, often dubbed the "Bondi bludgers", will be required at Sydney's ANZ Stadium if it is to break the competition's crowd record of 55,000.
Tickets went on sale for the general public yesterday at 3pm, ranging in price from NZ$39.50 to NZ$121.
There were 12,000 sold in the first hour, and 38,000 by 6pm.
The last time the Crusaders made the Super Rugby final, against the Reds in Brisbane in 2011, tickets to the 52,000-seat Suncorp Stadium sold out in 45 minutes. Tickets available to Crusaders fans were limited, leaving many disgruntled. Capacity will not be an issue at Sydney's 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium.
Waratahs Rugby spokeswoman Nicki Drinkwater said tickets were "up for grabs for anyone".
"We want to fill the place - the more Kiwis the better," she said.
The Super Rugby crowd record was set when the Bulls won their second of three titles at Pretoria in 2009. About 52,000 watched the Reds beat the Crusaders in the 2011 final.
New Zealand-based fans now face a true test of their loyalty with the cheapest return flight at more than $600.
Canterbury Rugby Supporters' Club president Dick Tayler knew fans planning to fly to Auckland for cheaper Sydney fares. "There'll be a lot of interest and Sydney is a good city to go to too.
"I think quite a number of people will go," he said.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said stadium size should ensure a lot of red and black support.
"We find when we play in Sydney there's a lot of support for the Crusaders, which is great. You see a lot of red jerseys amongst the blue. "
Sydney-based Cantabrian Daniel Ta'ase told The Press he and wife Maria got their tickets early, through a friend with a Waratahs membership.
In 2011, the couple paid more than $1000 for flights, accommodation and tickets to attend the Brisbane final.
Friends from Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane were flying in this week to join former Cantabs now living in Sydney for Saturday's game, he said.