Victorious Crusaders welcomed at Monday night party at Christchurch Airport
Passengers flying into Christchurch late on Monday were stunned to find at least 500 proud Cantabrians waving flags and cheering as they came into the arrivals lounge.
The crowd were there to meet the Crusaders after their Super Rugby final 25-17 win over the Lions in Johannesburg at the weekend.
A choir of Fijian women livened the atmosphere, singing in loud harmony well before the Crusaders even landed.
David James brought his children out to cheer on the Crusaders. Unlike many there, the family did not have any favourites, but appreciated the team as a whole.
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"Season pass ticket holders. Thought we'd better come and have a look and celebrate and watch them come in," James said.
"The whole team played well everyone has had a good season."
The victorious team was greeted by three crusaders adorned in the traditional knight's costumes befitting a medieval soldier. One said they did not have their horses because they were "sleeping".
Lin MacLachlan came out to support her husband David, who has been a Crusader knight for 15 years.
She said she also came to meet the captain, Sam Whitelock.
"I've come out to see Sammy. I was lucky enough to get a signature on my shirt, so I'm happy."
Husband David was happy with the effort.
"They deserve it, they worked hard for it."
Michael Olin, an eager fan, was proud of the effort his team had put in too.
"It's about time the Crusaders won. It has been nine years, but now they finally got back together with a new coach.
"It is incredible that we fought back and gave it all we got."
That coach is Scott Robertson, who made a name for himself when he started breakdancing on the field after the victory.
Robertson was swamped with fans looking for a chat with the dancing coach.
Cantabrians will be able to get a look at the victorious Crusaders and their Super Rugby trophy on Tuesday afternoon as a short parade and civic reception to welcome home the team will be held in Christchurch at 4pm.
A Christchurch City Council spokeswoman said the team would walk west on Worcester Blvd, starting at Cambridge Tce, at 4pm.They would walk the block to the Christchurch Art Gallery, where a civic reception would be held.
- The Press