Victorious Crusaders scheduled to arrive in Christchurch with Super Rugby trophy on Monday night

The Crusaders celebrate with the Super Rugby trophy following their 25-17 win over the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday ...
REUTERS

The Crusaders celebrate with the Super Rugby trophy following their 25-17 win over the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday morning.

Scott Robertson didn't want to say it himself.

So the Crusaders coach, no doubt wary of being accused of being a big-head, put the question out into a public forum for others to answer.

"Is it the greatest win in Super history, winning away over here?" Robertson said after his side had defeated the Lions 25-17 in the Super Rugby final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Sunday morning.

"No-one has done it before. It is not for us to judge. It is for others."

There is little doubt Robertson knew the answer to his query. To win in the rarefied air of Johannesburg, and in front of around 61,000 Lions fans, takes some doing. Also this was the first time a foreign team has travelled to South Africa and won a final since the competition started in 1996. So it is a big deal.

The Crusaders, who are scheduled to fly into Christchurch Airport at 10.20pm on Monday night, will be eager to continue the celebrations when they return to family, friends and family in the city.

The victory in Johannesburg was their finest moment – even if it was against a Lions team reduced to 14 men for 42 minutes because flanker Kwagga Smith had been sent off for tackling David Havili in the air.

At the start of each new season, journalists and fans alike have asked whether the powerhouse team, stacked with so many internationals, would finally secure another title. Their most recent success was in 2008, when departing coach Robbie Deans guided them to a 20-12 victory over the Waratahs in Christchurch.

Now they have their answer: "So, those questions are gone," Robertson noted.  "Now we have got All Blacks-Crusaders that have made their own part of history in the famous jersey."

Under new coach Robertson and skipper Sam Whitelock the Crusaders set about changing the team's fortunes.

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Robertson, who won four titles as a player between 1998-2002 and replaced outgoing Todd Blackadder after last season, is the first person to win the competition as coach and player and had no regrets about celebrating this victory by launching a post-match victory dance on the turf at Ellis Park: "The boys start singing and you get a bit of an old twinkle in your toes and off you go. It is a great way to finish off the campaign."

In the week leading-up to the final, he asked team performance analyst Jon Gardner to put together a montage of videos as the squad "covered a lot of history".

"Telling stories is a big part of what I do as a coach, and as a teacher you have got a good opportunity for people to learn," Robertson said.

"And you learn about the past. And why we hadn't had success, and what we had to do to make sure we held the trophy up."

 

 - Stuff

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